PRINCETON, N. J.
BX 5139 .G485 1836
Gilly, William Stephen
Digitized by the Internet Archive
HOBJE CATECHETICjE :
DUTY AND ADVANTAGES
PUBLIC CATECHISING IN CHURCH,
BY W. S. GILL Y, M. A.
PREBENDARY OP DURHAM ;
WITH ADDITIONAL MATTER,
GEORGE WASHINGTON DOANE, D.D.,
BISHOP OF NEW JERSEY.
WILLIAM MARSHALL & CO.
SURE I AM, CATECHISING, IX ITS
ORIGINAL, TRUE SENSE, IMFLJ ES
SOMETHING MORE THA5 A BARE
RUXIIXG OVER AX OLD FORM,
THOUGH THAT CONSISTS OF PRO-
PER QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS,
AND CONTAINS WHATSOEVER IS
NEEDFUL EITHER TO BELIEF OR
PRACTICE. BP. EDMUND LAW.
J. L. POWELL:
iiorary Press, Burlicgtoa N. J.
It is a vulgar notion, and may be a vulgar error, that wheresoever,
in the realm of nature, a poison groweth, there growcth near unto it
a certain antidote. It is at least a touching attestation to the habit-
ual faith of the common people in the providence of God, and an
expressive tribute to his ever present and prevailing goodness. But
whatever truth there be in this doctrine of physical compensations,
in the dealings which God hath with men as moral agents, there
is certainly something analogous to it. Out of the sorest evils which
our fallen nature brings upon itself, there ever springeth up a healing
retribution. Excess of license chastens and reclaims itself. Rebel-
lion weaves a scorpion scourge that whips us back to God. The
stern conviction which experience ever brings of the error of our own
ways, and of the folly of our own devices, is both the motive and
preparative of that return to a better mind, without which peace and
comfort are forever hopeless. So doth the wrath of man redound to
his Creator's glory. So, in mercy to our souls, doth he restrain the
Are there not manifested in onr day clear indications of this recu-
perative process of God's providence, in the instinctive readiness with
which men now begin to turn from vague and barren generalization,
from the heats of artificial excitement, or the shallow pools of super-
ficial nonsense, to the cool, green pastures, to the deep, still waters,
of God's word, — and to those slow, and patient, and pains-taking
methods, by which alone they can be found ? The age which just
precedes us, and of which ourselves are part, has been, it must be
owned, an age of loud and liberal profession, and, we fear it must as
well be owned, of scant and sparing practice. The apostle sketches
it in few and happy words, when, writing to the first Ephesian bi-
shop, he describes certain persons of that day, as "ever learning, and
never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." It is not want
of means. For it is a day of Bibles and of schools — the dynasty of
the Press — the age of light. It is not want of stimulus to effort. The
very atmosphere is excitement. The world is in commotion. The
human family have gone, as it were, into Committee of the whole, for
"the diffusion of " what is called, "useful knowledge." "Many"
are seen in all directions to "run to and fro;" and yet "knowledge"
— true, sound, substantial, saving knowledge — " is " not " increased."
We have been looking back with a pity that was half contempt upon
our poor groping ancestors, when, in integrity, and piety, and mo-
desty, and dignity, and courtesy, we are far out of sight behind them.
We have congratulated the world, and plumed ourselves, upon "the
march of mind," when, in good truth, so far as the strong founda-
tions, the substantial safeguards, and the crowning ornaments of
social life are thought of, we have been stationary, if indeed we have
not retrograded. It is a cheering symptom, an olive branch of hope,
a token that the Lord God hath not " cast off forever," that, in the
midst of this prevailing self-delusion, misgivings have arisen, that all
is not so well as it appears. There is an enquiry for " first princi-
ples." There is a searching after " the old paths." There is a gen-
eral persuasion that "the old is better." A revival, at least in part,
is now in progress, of the methods of primitive instruction and, we
will yet hope, of the measures of primitive devotion. The Church
has taken into her own hands, what she never should have delegated,
the high trust, to " preach the Gospel to every creature." The plan
of systematic charity, on principle, finds universal and substantial
favour. The ancient institution of public catechising is revived
with great acceptance. Arc not these encouraging " signs of the
times?" Is not God showing "some token upon us for good?" May
we not implore him, with renewed confidence, still to " revive his
work?" "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name
give the praise!"
It is in the hope of contributing something to the accomplishment
of these happy presages of advancing knowledge and increasing piety,
that the present republication is attempted. With the thoughtful
and the good, it can require neither apology nor argument. The
attempt to improve the young is one which among them will always
meet with universal favour. All know that if the fountains be not
pure, the streams must be corrupt. All are aware that if men hope
to reap in summer, they must plough and sow in spring. All agree
that the hope of the Church, that the hope of the world, is in the
young. How vainly, if they be not early taught to seek the Lord !
How vainly, if Christian parents do not bring them up in his nurture
and admonition — if Christian pastors feed not Christian lambs with
"food convenient" for them !
It would be out of place to enter here into any large discussion of
the merits of public catechising. In the Charge, which follows, the
subject is considered at some length. In Mr. Gilly's book there are
presented useful hints and happy illustrations for those who seriously
desire to adopt and make effectual the primitive institution. The
author has not undertaken, it will at once be seen, a regular treatise.
He has done what is likely, we imagine, to be more useful — thrown
together in an easy and natural way the results of his own experience ;
and thus taken by the hand, as it were, any who might consent
to walk with him in the path which he has found so pleasant and
so profitable. He has wisely deemed it better to write a book which
would set men to thinking for themselves, than to attempt to reason
out the subject for them. His little volume will be found, to use a
phrase of Aristotle's, full of " the seeds of things." They will take
root, we trust, and grow, and bear rich fruit, in many minds. At its
first appearance it attracted much attention. Its republication in this
country has been much desired. It is now attempted, in the hope—
which may God please to grant ! — that it may add something to the
wholesome impulse, which is now working in the minds of Christian
men, toward sounder methods of instruction in the faith and practice
of the Gospel, and which will not fail to lead, if he vouchsafe the
gTaces of his Holy Spirit, to larger attainments in holiness, and to
higher elevations of piety.
What may be the cause why so much cloth so soon changeth co-
lour ? It is because it was never wet wadded, which giveth the
fixation to a colour, and setteth it in the cloth.
What may be the reason why so many nowadays are carried about
with every wind of doctrine, even to scour every poinf in the com-
pass round about 1 Surely it is because they were never well
catechised in the principles of religion. — Thomas Fuller.
THE CHURCH'S CARE FOR LITTLE CHILDREN:
33tsJjop Doanc's SeconU (EJarfle
TO THE CLERGY OF THE DIOCESE OF NEW JERSEY.
M DCCC XXXVI.
'Tis a pity that people dont look at their
Catechism sometimes when they are grown
up : for it is full as good for men and wo-
men as it is for children; nay better: for
though the answers contained in it are
intended for children to repeat, yet the du-
ties enjoined in it are intended for men and
women to put in practice. It is. if I may
so speak, the very grammar of Christianity,
and of our Church ; and they who under-
stand every part of their Catechism tho-
roughly, will not be ignorant of any thing
which a plain Christian need to know.
,R£C. FEB m\
My brethren of the Clergy,
I suppose that if from all the sacred book that sen-
tence should be chosen which would find with human
hearts the fullest acceptation, it would be these words of
Jesus Christ, — " Suffer the little children to come unto me,
and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God."
And 1 am persuaded, in like manner, that if a single aspect
or provision of the Church should be selected, to establish
the conviction that she came from God, and was devised
for man, that would be taken which presents her, as the
Spouse of Christ, training the children of her Lord, in ho-
liness and piety, for their inheritance of glory. It follows,
by a necessary consequence, that if we, my reverend bre-
thren, would most effectually do honour to the Master
whom we serve, and most essentially promote the welfare
of the souls entrusted to our care, we must have ever in
our hearts the sense of our relation to the young, and
labour constantly, with diligonce, fidelity and prayer, to be
approved of Jesus, by the test which he proposed to Peter,
— " Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?
Feed my lambs."
It was the purpose of the Primary Charge to state and
urge " the edification of the Church, for the salvation of
souls," as "the office and duty of the Christian Ministry."
It seemed to me the best improvement of the occasion
which brought us first together, as fellow-servants in tho
same household of the common faith, to state thus gener-
ally the objects and the nature of our sacred calling — the
end at which we aim, the means by which we seek it, the
faithful efforts, fervent prayers, sincere desires, to which
the Lord assures his blessing, approval here, and " life for
evermore." Of a subject so extensive, the discussion, of
necessity, was partial. An outline only could be given, to
be filled up and finished, as occasion should demand, and
God permit. Spared by his gracious providence, through
three years more, the period has arrived, at which " it is
deemed proper," in the judgment of the Church,* " unless
prevented by a reasonable cause," that I again address
you in " a Charge." In proceeding to take up the details
of that great subject, which could then be treated only in
the mass, I select for present consideration the attractive
feature which has just been specified — tiie Church's
care for " little children" — and I ask your patient
attention, reverend brethren, while, from an examination of
her beautiful and merciful provisions, I develope her fidelity
and our responsibility.
I. The Church is faithful to her Lord in the care she
takes for " little children" —
To bring them to him in Infant Baptism ;
To train them up for him, in the instructions of the
To engage them to be his forever, in the rite of Confir-
II. In each of these, but most especially in the second
of them — the catechetical instruction of the young — we
derive, my reverend brethren, from her fidelity, the argu-
* Canon xxvi of the General Convention.
ment and admonition of our great responsibility. — God
grant that we may so receive the Saviour, in the little child-
ren whom he loves, that, at the last, he may receive and
own us all as faithful shepherds, and hestow on us the crown
of life, " that fadeth not away."
i. The Church is faithful to her Lord in bringing " little
children" to him, in Infant Baptism. I assume that she has
right to do so. I undertake no defence of the grounds
and reasons of this sacrament. I enter into no argument
to prove that the Gospel is more comprehensive, more
benevolent, more regardful of human infirmity, than the
Law. I can conceive of no necessity to show that He,
who, before his crucifixion, said, " Suffer little children to
come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the
kingdom of God," did not afterwards, when he had risen
from the dead, exclude them from the initiatory rite of his
religion, or forbid that they should " be born of water and
of the Spirit," without which, he declared to Nicodemus,
none can "enter into the kingdom of God." But, the
authority conceded, how benign, how beautiful, how admir-
able for wisdom and benevolence, the uses of the ordinance !
The infant sufferer is born into a world of sorrow and of
sin, the heir at once of both. At the first threshold of his
being, the Saviour's spouse comes out to meet him. She
bears him to the bleeding Cross. She laves him in the
fountain that forever flows from it, " for sin and for un-
cleanness." She signs him with its sacred sign. It is the
signature of heaven upon his brow and in his heart. He
is « born again" " of water and of the Spirit." He is the
child of God, by " adoption and grace." He is an heir,
through hope, of the eternal kingdom, by the merits of the
most precious death of the only-begotten Son of God.
ii. When she has brought the little children thus to
Christ, and made them by adoption members of the family
of God, does she so leave them to the sinful bias of their
fallen nature, and the corrupting influence of the wicked
world 1 No ! She bears them gently in a mother's arms.
She clasps them fondly to a mother's breast. They are
nurtured at her bosom. They are led by her hand. They
are fed " with milk, and not with meat." There is ever
in her ear the touching charge of her dear Lord, "take this
child, and nurse him for me ;" and the thought is ever
foremost in her heart, to bring them up, whom He has so
acknowledged, in His nurture and holy admonition. Ad-
mirable for this end, is the " Catechism " which she has
provided, — a "form of sound words" — scripture, or strictly
scriptural — the work of men, giants in intellect, and saints
in piety — " so concise that the youngest child may learn it
by heart, and yet so copious as to contain all things neces-
sary to salvation."* Admirable is the provision which
she has made, that this unrivalled summary of Christian
faith and practice may not remain as a dead letter in the
Prayer Book, — her rubrics requiring "the minister of every
parish" "diligently upon Sundays and Holy-days" to
" instruct or examine" the " children of his parish," " open-
ly in the Church," in some part of it; and "all fathers,
mothers, masters and mistresses " being enjoined to " cause
their children, servants and apprentices, who have not
learned their Catechism, to come to the Church, at the
time appointed, and obediently to hear, and to be ordered
by the minister)"" — her canons directing that the ministers
* Jenkin on the Liturgy, pp. 225, 226.
f At the end of the Catechism.
who have charge of parishes " shall not only be diligent in
instructing the children in the Catechism, but shall also by
stated catechetical lectures and instruction be diligent in
informing the youth and others in the doctrines, constitu-
tion, and liturgy of the Church"* — nay the very title of
the Catechism, bearing with it this direct and positive in-
junction, " that is to say, an instruction to be learned by
every person before he be brought to be confirmed by the
iii. From the time that water first was sprinkled on the
infant's brow, in the eternal, triune Name, this was the
point to which all hearts were turned. Nearer than father
or than molherf to the children of her Saviour's love, the
Church, at that first moment of his Christian being, ex-
horted them, with the Godfathers and Godmothers, that
they " take care " that he " be brought to the Bishop to be
confirmed by him, so soon as he can say the Creed, the
Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, and is suffi-
ciently instructed in the other parts of the Church Cate-
chism, set forth for that purpose." Through all his help-
less infancy, and tender childhood, and ingenuous youth,
this purpose was pursued. She knew how in a thousand
ways the devious paths of life would tempt his inexperi-
* Canon xxviii.
f In Gibson's Codex there is a remarkable illustration of this more
than maternal interest of the Church for " little children," even in
reference to their temporal safety. It is one of the Constitutions of
Edmund, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the reign of Henry III, and
is described in the margin thus — " Women shall be often admonished
not to endanger their children." It bears date, A. D. 1236. — " JVe
faminx tenellos node opprimant, aliive pcriculo exponant. Foemi-
nae commoneantur, ut pueros caute alant, et juxta se in nocte non
collocarent, ne opprimantur. Solos juxta aquas sine custode non re-
linquant, et hoc omni die Dominica eis dicatur.
enced feet; and, with a track of light, she sketched for him
that path of God's commandments, which is the single path
of happiness and peace. She knew how deep the stain,
how stern the yoke of sin ; and she set up before him the
mysterious Cross, and bid him turn to it, through faith in
him who suffered there and died, and be redeemed and
cleansed and live. She knew how tempting were the vani-
ties of time, and how prevailing were the spells of earth ;
and she disclosed to him the joys of heaven, and its untold,
unmingled and eternal glories, and exhorted him to set his
affections there, and to have his treasure there and his
home, that when his flesh and his heart shall fail, that may
be his rest, and his "portion forever." In the light of such
instructions, and by the power of such convictions, and
with the comfort of such hopes, she has continued faithfully
to catechise* him in the way in which he ought to go: and
now, "sufficiently instructed," its truths engraven on his
heart, its precepts radiant in his life, he comes — no more
"a babe in Christ," but grown in knowledge and in grace,
the freeman of the Lord — to own before the Church the
blessed bond sealed for him in his infancy, and in the im-
parted strength of God, the Sanctifler, to make his only
and his best return, in yielding up himself, his soul and
body to the service and the glory of his Saviour. He
makes the solemn pledge. He kneels. He supplicates
the heavenly grace. The hands of an apostle rest with
holy prayers upon his head. And he is God's, and — so
he be faithful unto death — God is, and will be, his forever.
Such is an outline, brief and rapid, of the beautiful and
merciful provision by which the Church demonstrates and
* Proverbs xxii. 6, marginal reading.
exerts her care for little children. How true to nature !
How profound in philosophy! In piety how elevated!
How instinct with charity ! She " knows whereof we are
made, and remembers that we are but dust." She sees
that " of ourselves we are not sufficient to any good thing,
as of ourselves." She bears in mind that for the race of
man, so weak, so lost, so " dead in trespasses and sins,"
the Saviour died, that he might redeem them from all ini-
quity, and purify them to himself, as " a peculiar people,
zealous of good works." A work so great cannot begin
too soon. In such an enterprize, so mighty, so momentous,
involving the eternal welfare of immortal souls, no mo-
ment must be lost. In resisting the whole bent and bias
of an evil nature, reclaiming it from the control and thral-
dom of a power to which its will consents, transforming
it — to use the only word which tells us all — creating it
anew, so that from being sinful and loving sin, it shall be-
come holy and in love with holiness, there must be need
of time, and influence, and energy, and patience, and
perseverance, and true love that never fails nor falters,
nor grows weary, — and there needs above them and beyond
them all, without which all the rest are vain, the sancti-
fying grace of the divine and holy Spirit. And she brings
them all to bear — commences with the babe just born —
secures for him, while worldlings would be caring for his
fortune or his rank, a title to the purchase of the Cross, a
portion in the heritage of heaven — lays her wait for the
first dawning of his moral nature, and has prepared her
pious hymn and holy prayer, to catch his infant heart* —
* And we may add, to hold his aged heart. See a beautiful in-
stance of the impression and enjoyment of an infant hymn, at
eighty-nine, in the appendix to Bishop Doane's sermon commemo-
rative of Bishop White,
leads him gently by the hand to tender pastures and still
waters — teaches him diligently, while he sits in the house
and when he walks by the way, when he lies down and
when he rises up — plies him with " line upon line, line
upon line, precept upon precept, precept upon precept" —
has patience w ith his weakness, with his slowness of heart,
with his impatience, with his perversity, with his ingrati-
tude — and supplicates, w ith fervent and continual prayers,
the blessing of that gracious Spirit, who alone can bless
her care, and crown her toil with increase.
And now, my reverend brethren, from the consideration
of the Church's faithfulness in taking care of " little
children," what can result, but the conviction of our great
responsibility ? In vain her merciful provision, without
hearts that can appreciate and adopt it. In vain her admi-
rable plans, if there be not willing hands, to carry them
out, and to accomplish them. How shall we excuse our-
selves, if, with such provision and such plans as we possess,
we fail in our discharge of duty, and disappoint the Church's
fondest hope ? How, at the last great day, shall we endure
it, when he who died for all the flock, as once he turned
and looked on Peter, shall turn and look on us, and ask,
at our hands, the lambs our negligence has lost 1 Con-
strained by these considerations, solicitous that in our pas-
toral office we may all approve ourselves good shepherds,
that so the Saviour may be honoured, the Church edified,
the sheep and lambs w^ell fed, immortal souls reclaimed
and sanctified and saved, and our account returned " with
joy, and not with grief," I urge with utmost earnestness,
as worthy of your best attention, and certain to repay your
greatest efforts, the catechetical instruction of the young ;
and, in what follows of the present Charge, shall ask your
interest in the inquiry, which I now propose, as to its exact
nature, its best method, and its manifold advantages.
1. The ancient and excellent institution of Catechising
has suffered much depreciation from prevailing errors, as
to its exact nature and intention. It has been supposed
that these were both fulfilled when, now and then, — on
rare occasions, as if an irksome task ; when the whole con-
gregation had retired, as if a work affording neither interest
nor profit — its words, committed all to memory, were said
by rote, — the questions asked exactly as they stand, no
less, no more, — the answers rendered to the letter, and
too often with but little more of understanding or of appli-
cation than a well-instructed parrot might attain to. Who
can wonder, if the institution, so administered, should suf-
fer disrepute — if a duty discharged with so little interest,
should be interesting to few or none — if an office, so re-
duced and dwindled to a bare and barren form, should fail
of any useful purpose, and fall into neglect 1 In the be-
ginning it was not so. By catechising, beyond a question,
the faith and practice of the Gospel first gained an intro-
duction among men. " It was principally by catechising,"
says Bishop Mant, on the authority of Hegesippus, "that
the religion of Jesus was in a few years spread over the
known world."* " By catechising, under Heaven," says
Archdeacon Bayley, " was planted the apostolic Church ;
by catechising, the sound of the Gospel was sent forth into
all lands. ""j" " St. Paul's converts," says the present Bishop
of Chester, " had all been instructed in the faith, as the
custom was, catechetical ly."^: " Clemens Alcxandrinus,
• Notes on the Catechism.
f Charge to the Clergy of the Archdeaconry of Stow.
i J. B. Sumner, Apostolical Preaching, 4th LonJon edition, p. 308.
Heraclias, afterwards Bishop of Alexandria, and Origen,
were catechists ; and the latter was so eminently success-
ful in proceeding upon the golden rule, " line upon line and
precept upon precept," that he not only achieved conver-
sions among the more ignorant and uninformed, but among
accomplished scholars."* It follows from these statements,
and from many more that might be made, that catechetical
instruction could not have been in earlier days that mere
mechanical procedure which some appear to think it.
" Sure I am," says Bishop Edmund Law, " catechising in
its original, true sense, implies something more than a bare
running over an old form, though that consist of proper
questions and answers, and contain whatever is needful to
believe or practice. "f
The word, indeed, to go to the beginning, is a scriptural
word, the practice is a scriptural practice. When St. Luke
declares his purpose, in writing to Theophilus, to be, that
he might know the certainty of those things wherein he
was instructed, the literal meaning of the word is cate-
chised-X When Apollos is spoken of as a man instructed
in the way of the Lord, the literal sense is catechised.^
And when St. Paul declares that he had rather speak five
words with his understanding that he might teach others,
than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue, the literal
rendering is, that he might catechise \\ others. And ac-
cordingly, St. Cyril says expressly, that " St. Paul preached
the Gospel from Rome to Illyria, and taught at Rome, by
catechising."!! If it be asked then, what w e are to under-
* Gilly's Hora Catechetica-, pp. 70, 1.
j- Dissertation on the nature and necessity of Catechising.
* St. Luke i. 4. § Acts xviii. 25. || 1 Corinthians xW. 19.
1 Catechesis, xvii, 16— quoted by Gilly, p. 66.
stand precisely by this term, we answer, in the words of
Clement of Alexandria, specially this, — " the knowledge
of religion first delivered to the ignorant by the Catechist,
and then by them repeated over and over again"* — the
catechist being said to instruct, by making the elements of
Christian doctrine resound in the ears of his students, and
the Catechumen being said to be taught, by repeating the
words addressed to him, and by answering questions. The
persons first catechised, though men in years, were chil-
dren in the knowledge of the Gospel — so that the same
Clement, after Paul, speaks of them as " babes in Christ,"
and of catechetical instruction as "milk," being as it were,
" the first nourishment of the souI."f It was therefore in
its matter elementary, and simple in its style, brief and fa-
miliar, and relying much for certainty of inculcation on its
frequent repetitions. But it addressed the mind. It en-
gaged the heart. It unfolded the whole plan of salvation.
It made Apollos "mighty in the scriptures."^: It could
not, therefore, be a mere set form. It was not, therefore,
matter for the memory alone. It did not exhaust itself in
words and phrases, said by rote. In our day, things are
changed. Christianity, in name at least, prevails. The
catechumens are now children. But the lesson is the same.
The object is the same. The human mind remains the
same. And the familiar teaching of the Catechism, its
clear analysis of Scripture, its orderly developement of
Christian doctrine, its wholesome exhortations to Christian
practice, its striking illustrations, its direct appeals, its
"line upon line," and "precept upon precept," its adapta-
* Cited by Comber, in Gilly, p. v.
| Bishop Kay's account of the Life and Writings of Clement of
Alexandria, pp. 444, 5. 4 Acts xviii, 24, 25.
tion to every form of character and every grade of intelli-
gence, its variety and simplicity, its homeliness and earnest-
ness, still render it the most effectual instrument of pastoral
usefulness, and still claim for it, in its legitimate and pro-
per exercise, that prominent regard which, in the primitive
Church, in the Church through which we hold commu-
nion with the Apostles,* and in our own Church, has ever
been assigned to it. " By catechising," says Bishop Law,
whose exposition of the nature of the office we adopt, " I
mean not the procuring our own Catechism, or any other
short explanation of Christianity, to be said a few times
over by rote, nor the delivering any stated discourse thereon,
(though these may be of great use in their turns,) but the
free, frequent, and familiar exercising of young persons in
it, till they thoroughly understand, and can express the
meaning of each word and phrase, according to their res-
pective capacities, experience, and degrfe of improvement ;
thus leading them on gradually from sounds to sense, form-
ing their thoughts, and fixing their attention to the reason
and relation of things ; aiding and inuring them to reflect
a little on such points as are within their reach ; and ena-
* It would occupy much room merely to cite the provisions by
which the Church of England has sought to enforce the primitive
institution of Catechising. One, which owed its origin to the judi-
cious piety of that rare youth, the sixth Edward, is thus cited by
Bishop Gibson in his Codex Juris Ecclesiastici AngUctmi — "In
the Reformatio Legum there is an excellent rule upon this head.
One hour or more in the afternoon service, let the parish-priest take
up the Catechism, and give great attention to the explanation of it ;
for a frequent exposition of the Catechism is of the utmost use and
benefit in the Church of God. And we wish this instruction to be
given not only to the children, but to the young persons who are
growing up, that they also may be well informed in the principles of
their religion, and that the assiduity of the children may be stimu-
lated by their presence."
bling them at length to give a clear account of all parts of
the Christian dispensation, and become fully acquainted
with their duty both to God and man. This is the office
of catechising, which though it may appear a low, con-
temptible one, yet is assuredly an arduous task, and which
perhaps requires the greatest pains and skill of any part of
the whole ministerial function."*
2. In the discharge of this great duty, thus denned, there
doubtless may be used variety of method, and this with-
out departure from its proper purpose and intention. A
few suggestions, the result of much reflection, and confirmed
in practice, will illustrate my own preference.
i. Whatever helps the Catechist may use, the Church
Catechism should always be the text-book. There is none
so good. There is no other that has authority. The use
of Catechisms preliminary to it, and of Catechisms explan-
atory of it, and of Catechisms for those of riper years, is
altogether unnecessary, and tends to distract the mind.
Multiply Catechisms as you may, there is but one plan of
salvation. That, the Catechism in the Prayer Book fully
and faithfully dcvelopes. The best could do no more.
" The country parson," says godly Herbert, " values Cat-
echism highly. He useth and preferreth the ordinary
Church Catechism, partly for obedience to authority, partly
for uniformity sake, that the same common truths may
be every where professed ; especially since many remove
from parish to parish, who, like Christian soldiers, are to
give the word, and to satisfy the congregation, by their
Catholic answers. "f In one respect it is peculiar. Parts
of it are level to the comprehension of the simplest child.
* Nature and necessity of Catechising,
f The Parson Catechising.
Parts of it, if thoroughly investigated, would task the lof-
tiest reach of the most intellectual man — places in it, as an
ancient * writes of sacred Scripture, where every lamb
may wade, other places where an elephant must swim.
The utmost range is thus permitted to the Pastor in the
adaptation of it to the several capacities of those whom he
instructs — exacting of all, says Herbert, "the doctrines of
the Catechism : of the younger sort the very words ; of the
elder, the substance.""|" Remembering, we may add, that
as the youngest soon will rank among the elder, the elder
soon will pass beyond his reach, he cannot be diligent
enough in storing all their memories with the words, in
imbuing all their hearts with the substance, of that most
admirable Christian manual.
" There are very few human productions," says one who
has written admirably on this subject, " upon which a
Christian teacher can ground his instructions with so much
confidence, as the Church Catechism. The Roman Catho-
lic Catechisms run away into many points of faith and
discipline, which have no support whatever from the plain
words of Scripture. Several of the best Catechisms of
reformed congregations are abstrusely doctrinal, — others
are diffuse and lengthened out into treatises ; while our own
is neither redundant nor dogmatical. It never wanders
from Scripture, or runs into nice distinctions : it contains
that alone in which all Christians are agreed. It raises no
scruples, it offends no prejudices, and its very brevity
implies that it leaves much to the judgment of the parish
priest, and demands that he do more than confine himself
to its concise phraseology — that, taking its letter as his
* Gregory the Great.
f The Parson Catechising.
guide, he make a full and complete illustration of its apos-
tolical lessons. Hence the clergyman who commences his
catechetical lectures with this manual in his hand, sets out
in good humour with all Christian men. Every body is
with him, no man is against him. Those who think the
Catechism too short, look to him for amplification. Those
who fancy it requires some explanation are glad to have
him for an expounder."*
ii. Excellent as the Catechism is, and prominent as it
should be in every plan of pastoral instruction, it should
always be impressed upon the mind of every child, that it
is nothing, and of no regard, but as it may be proved by
Scripture. While therefore its venerable text should be
continually repeated, analysed, enlarged on, illustrated,
laid to the heart, applied to all the life, it should be con-
stantly required that every line and word of it be shown
to have authority in Holy Scripture. Used in this way,
the Catechism explains the Bible, while the Bible sustains
the Catechism. The plan of salvation is developed. The
doctrines of the Cross are explained. The duties of life
are enforced. Of the whole counsel of God no portion is
kept back. Of all that appertains to life and godliness no
point is left obscure. Nothing can be more impressive,
nothing can be more interesting than an exercise like this.
The lucid order of the Catechism throws light upon the
meaning of the sacred text. The sacred text gives unction,
power and life to the instructions of the Catechism. At
every step, new confidence is gained, new beauties are
apparent. The young Christian drinks conviction from the
first fountains of eternal truth ; and finds, with lively satis-
* Gilly's Hora; Catccheticae, pp. 147, 8.
faction, that every word which has been taught him by the
Church, has precedent and sanction in the pure word of
iii. The exercise of catechising, thus guided by the pro-
vision made for it in the Prayer Book, with continual com-
parison of every point with Holy Writ, should also be con-
ducted in a constant reference to the order and services of
the Church. In this way, her distinctive features, the
authority and constitution of her ministry, the nature and
importance of the sacraments, the admirable arrangement
of the Christian year, her daily services, her solemn cere-
monies, her impressive rites, may all be made familiar to
the children, commended to their understandings, made en-
gaging to their hearts ; and shown to be not less accordant
with the sacred warrant of the word of God than with the
dictates of man's reason, and the infirmities, necessities and
sympathies of his immortal nature. In this way, objections
are answered, prejudices mitigated, ignorance informed.
The relation of the parts is shown, and the agreement of
the whole. The Church approves herself to be what God
designed, the pillar and basis of the truth.* Her service
is, and is seen to be, a " reasonable service ;" her worship,
" the beauty of holiness," commends itself to every heart,
and is, as it is felt to be, by every pious soul, a " spiritual
sacrifice," acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ.
iv. The catechising should be " openly in the Church."
This is the provision of the rubric. Of its meaning, there
can be no doubt. To catechise the children before the con-
gregation have assembled, or after they have dispersed, is
not to comply with it — is to deprive many who might be
* 1 Timothy, iii. 15.
profited by it of the advantage — is to put its light " under
a bushel," when it should be set up in the candlestick, and
give light to all that are in the house. The disregard of
this injunction has tended very greatly to depreciate the
Catechising. A thing done in a corner is naturally sup-
posed to be of small importance ; and what a thing is
thought to be, it commonly is. General interest has been
lost. Parents and guardians have seldom favoured it with
their presence. It has possessed nothing to render it ani-
mating to the Pastor, or engaging to the children. It has
become dull, formal work, without estimation, and with
but small advantage. In too many cases, it has gone en-
tirely out of use.
v. To restore the catechising to its due importance, it
must not only be done openly in the Church, but, when it
is done, it must take the place of the sermon. Objections
will, I know, be raised to this proposal — that the people
will complain of it — that it will hinder their edification —
that it will make the Church unpopular. They are the
objections, I presume to say, of those who never made the
trial, or made it partially, and without confidence. The
true inquiry to be made is, what is right, and what has
been experience ? It is right, doubtless, that " the priest's
lips should keep knowledge, and that the people should
seek the law at his mouth." What the Scripture teaches,
what the Church enjoins, what his best judgment recom-
mends, and his conscience honestly approves, he certainly
must do. And what he makes it plain that he so does, the
people will as certainly allow. They know that the chil-
dren must be instructed. They know that the Church re-
quires that he should catechise them openly before the
congregation. They know that for this service time must
be allowed. They know that to add it to a sermon will
exhaust his strength, while it fatigues the children, and is
wearisome to them. It is an error to suppose the people
blind to these considerations, or deaf to reason and to duty.
They are alive to both. They confide in the judgment of
him who ministers to them in holy things. They are pre-
disposed to the approval of his godly judgments. Let
him convince them that he seeks not theirs, but them; let
them be satisfied that he would save their children and
themselves ; and they will object to nothing that he proposes,
they will withhold nothing that he requires, — be it con-
sistent only with the Scripture and the Church. Of the
good shepherd, that goeth before his sheep, the saying of
the Saviour always will be true — calling his own sheep by
name, and leading them out, his sheep will follow him,
because they know his voice.* And such is the lesson of
experience. Where the catechising has been made a pub-
lic exercise, and diligently administered, it has secured ac-
ceptance with the people, and approved itself a benefit to
all. Bishop Sanderson, when he was a parochial Cler-
gyman, used to spend an hour at evening in the Church
Catechism : " whereat," says one of his biographers, " the
parents and elder sort were wont to be present, and from
whence they reaped greater benefit than from his sermons ;
the great principles of religion working more powerfully
upon them than his discourses and enlargements. "j" " I
never yet," says Bishop Fleetwood, " heard catechising in
the Church, where I did not see the oldest and the gravest
people attend as seriously as any else; and I dare say
they were as much edified and more pleased to be so than
* John, T. 4.
■j- Special Remarks in the Life of Dr. Sanderson, p. 24.
the elder."* " In most country parishes," says the present
Bishop of London, " a catechetical examination of young
persons, interspersed with judicious illustrations and re-
marks, will be of greater benefit to the congregation than
a second sermon."")" My own experience in every respect
confirms the statement of these high authorities. Every
where, the testimony is, that the catechising at the visi-
tation transcends in interest and in profit the usual sermon.
Once in a month, at least, in every parish — as I have prac-
tised with entire acceptance and to great advantage in my
own — I most decidedly advise the substitution. I am much
disposed to think with Bishop Blomfield, that it were well,
if it were weekly. I only differ from him, in believing,
that in city, equally with country parishes, the practice is
not only feasible, but altogether to be commended.
vi. It is scarcely necessary to suggest, that in conducting
the catechetical exercise, distinctness, simplicity, direct-
ness, familiarity, variety are elements essential to success.
Distinctness is essential to the hearing, first, and then to
the understanding, of the exercise. To ensure the hearing
of the answers, as well as of the questions, the minister
must often repeat them, as they fall from the weak voice
of his little, timid pupil: and this, if it be connected with
a word or two, in confirmation, if it be right, in correction,
if it be wrong ; sometimes by way of explanation, some-
times by way of enlargement, — incorporating as it were
the teacher with the scholars, — will give additional weight
and value to the lesson. That its whole tenour may be
understood, as well as heard, the questions must be short,
the points precise, the order natural — the interrogatory so
* Works, p. 467. j Primary Charge, p. 29.
framed, that if the expected answer be not in the words of
the Catechism itself, it may be in the fewest words, con-
nected obviously with what precedes, suggesting evidently
that which is to follow. — Simplicity of matter and of ar-
rangement is a most important quality in catechising. Let
a single train of thought be well arranged in the instruc-
tor's mind, before he commence the exercise. Multiplicity
of subjects divides, complexity of statement will confuse,
the attention of the learner. A single doctrine or a single
duty, with its connections and its consequences, will often
furnish matter for a lesson. The progress made by weeks
or months, from step to step, completes in time the whole
great subject, and yet never overtasks the youthful mind.
A single truth, a single precept, understood, inculcated,
laid to the heart, will fix itself there, and, with the Spirit's
gracious aid, will live and grow there. Another and
another is presented and enforced. The food received is
well digested. The soul is fed and nurtured. " The sin-
cere milk of the word " gives gradually place to the " strong
meat." The " babe in Christ" increases " in wisdom and
in stature," and grows " in grace, and in the knowledge of
our Lord Jesus Christ." — To this end, directness and fa-
miliarity must come in aid of distinctness and simplicity.
The Christian Pastor must be as a father among his chil-
dren. He must know them all by name. He must ar-
rest the individual eye. He must address the individual
heart. To do this, he must come down to the level of
every age and capacity. " He is not catechising," says
one who understands the subject well, " when he ceases to
be perfectly intelligible, easy and familiar."* " He must
• Gilly's Hone Catccheticse, p. 148.
descend," says Bishop Sumner, " from the high and lofty
tone oflanguage, to walk in the humble terms of Scripture."
" He must abound in interrogations and direct addresses,
which, however the rules of composition may condemn in
writing, the rules of nature sanction and require in speak-
ing."* The great desideratum is to put the children at
their ease; and this they will be if they feel that they are
talking with a friend. Let your children see that you
take pleasure in instructing them. Let them see that what
you do, you do from love. Let them feel that what you
love in them is their immortal souls, for which the Saviour
died; and lead them thus to lay lo heart, while yet the
heart is young and soft, the unction of that blood which
only cleanses from all sin. — Finally, let the subject be re-
lieved, the exercise diversified, the attention roused and
kept alive, by a continual variety — by sudden and abrupt
interrogations, by following out the train of thought which
some unlooked for answer may suggest, by availing your-
selves of the infinitude of easy, natural and graceful diver-
sions from the main argument, which the laws of associa-
tion will constantly supply, by direct appeals, by searching
questions, by comparison and contrast, by allusions to the
* Apostolical preaching, p. 1 1. " The concern of a parish minis-
ter," says Archbishop Seeker, " is to make the lowest of his congre-
gation apprehend the doctrine of salvation by repentance, faith and
obedience ; and to labour, that, when they know the way of life,
they walk in it. If he doth not these things for them, he doth no-
thing ; and it requires much consideration to find out the proper
methods of doing them, and much pains and patience to try one after
another. Smooth discourses, composed partly in flowing sentences
which they cannot follow to the end, containing little that awakes
their drowsy attention, little that enforces on them plainly and home
what they must do to be saved, leave them as ignorant and unin-
formed as ever, and only lull them into a fatal security. Therefore
bring yourselves doiun to their level." — Second Charge.
incidents and characters of Scripture, by illustrations from
the services and order of the Church, by suffering the little
learner sometimes to go wrong, that he may correct him-
self, by directing the honest answers of the children to the
exposure and reproof of prevailing error, whether in faith
or practice, and by casual remarks, incidental inferences,
addresses to children, to teachers, to parents, to the whole
congregation — in a word, by whatever the occasion natu-
rally suggests, that can exercise the mind or engage the
hearts of the children in " the doctrine which is according
to godliness," and at the same time quicken the recollec-
tion of those of riper years, impress them with a just sense
of their condition and its responsibilities, and provoke them
to a holy emulation.
3. Of the final topic of the Charge, the manifold ad-
vantages of public Catechising, 1 have inevitably antici-
pated much. In regard to those which still remain unno-
ticed — so admirable for usefulness is the primitive institution
— the difficulty is, from the great number, which present
themselves, to select the few which time and our conve-
nience allow. I shall attempt no more at present than to
show, by the enumeration of some leading benefits, its
great importance in these two relations — as strengthening
the endearing bond which should unite the Pastor with his
people, and as a powerful instrument, in his hand, of
i. I know not how the nature of that bond which should
unite the Pastor with the people can be more fully and
more clearly stated, than I find it in a Charge of the pre-
sent Primate of all England, when diocesan of London.
" The allegiance you owe to the Church," he says, « obli-
ges you in every particular of your professional conduct
to look to her for direction, and where she either affords
no definite rule, or custom has superseded her original
practice, to yield substantial obedience at least by taking
her principles for your guide. Her wisdom indeed might
of itself command our attention, if her authority were
less. In her Canons, which are a body of laws for the
general regulation of her discipline, we find many directions
of the greatest importance which ought to be familiar to
the parish priest. Her liturgical formularies not only sup-
ply a collection of prayers, instructions and offices, adapted
to all the solemnities of religious worship, to the exigencies
of every age and every condition, to the uses of every day,
to all the contingencies of life; but virtually establish a
system of parochial discipline conceived on an accurate
notion of the relation between the pastor and his flock,
designed to connect them by a regular intercourse, and to
direct the conduct of both parties in the performance of
their respective duties. As the ground-work of this plan,
it is her peculiar object to bring the parishioner from his
earliest days into immediate contact with his spiritual
teacher and guide. In the tenour of the rubrics annexed
to the Catechism, and the offices of Baptism and Confir-
mation compared with the several Canons relating to the
same points, we have connected indications of this design.
Whether we look to the dedication of the infant to God
by the ministry of the priest, to the profession of faith and
obedience which is made in his presence by the Sponsors,
or to the exhortation which designates their duties, and
specifies the instruction to be given to the child, — we dis-
cern the pervading intention of placing the rising generation
in the view of the minister, of giving them in thetenderest
infancy the advantage of his paternal protection, and
sending them to the Church to be publicly instructed by
him in faith and morals, till he is so well satisfied with their
proficiency as to recommend them for Confirmation to the
Bishop."* This is an admirable statement. It involves
an argument powerful indeed to commend the Church to
universal acceptation. It presents a beautiful and touching
illustration of the Saviour's pitying love for men, in pro-
viding for them, — by an office which himself ordained, per-
petuates, and has declared that he will bless, — that, from the
cradle to the grave, they shall possess, in him who is their
minister in holy things, a .guide, companion, friend and
To strengthen and confirm this holy bond of pastoral
love, the institution of the Catechism gives powerful aid
by its just influence with children. The hearts of little
children are soft and warm. They take impressions easily,
and hold them long. The pastoral eye, the pastoral voice,
the pastoral smile, makes an impression then, which time
will not efface. Gathering the lambs with his arm, and
carrying them in his bosom, bringing back that which was
driven away, and seeking again that which was lost, the
good shepherd commends himself not only, but his mes-
sage, and his Master, to their favour. The love they feel
for him insensibly attaches to his work, and he wins souls
for Christ, at the time when they are fittest for his service,
and in the way which is most certain to secure them to
him forever. — Nor is this all. To gain the parent's heart,
* Charge to the Clergy of the diocese of London, 1822, third edi-
tion, pp. 20 — 22. — I take this occasion to suggest the obvious im-
portance of using every mode of influence to retain the cider chil-
dren and youth of the congregation in the habit of Catechising. It
is for their good. It makes the exercise more interesting. It knits
the pastoral bond. It harmonizes and strengthens the Church.
the surest process is to win the child's. . There is no bond
so strong as nature knits when sanctified by grace. There
is no compensation of God's providence so beautiful, as
when the child repays the debt of life, by leading them who
gave it to the fountain, where men drink, and live forever.
And angels, could so base a passion touch their sinless
souls, might well be thought to envy him whose pastoral
influence God has blessed to uses so divine. And when
the little child, by visits such as angels ply from heaven to
earth", has led the thoughtless parent to the throne of grace,
and round the sacred hearth the pious circle meet to read
the word of God, or pour the fervent prayer, there is no
dearer bond on earth than that which love and gratitude
then knit about the pastoral crook, and a new chaplet then
is twined in heaven, to grace the pastoral crown.
ii. Nor, less effectual is the public Catechising, as an
instrument of Christian education, than in its influence on
the pastoral bond. To suppose that the capacity to» com-
prehend' sermons, or even to understand the sacred Scrip-
tures, can be had, without some previous preparation, is an
obvious error. For want of elementary knowledge, much
preaching is in vain. We take for granted that the people
know much more than they have ever had the opportunity
to learn. Hence the necessity of Catechising to supply
the first principles, to familiarize with terms and forms,
to discipline the understanding and prepare the heart.
"There is no employment in the world," says Bishop
Hall, "wherein God's minister's can employ themselves so
profitably as in this of plain and familiar Catechism. What
is a building without a foundation? If this ground work
be not surely laid, all their divine discourses lie but upon
shifting sand."* " Great scholars," said Archbishop Usher,
" possibly may think that it stands not so well with their
credit to stoop thus low, and to spend so much of their
time in teaching these rudiments and first principles of the
doctrine of Christ. But they should consider that the lay-
ing of the foundation skilfully, as it is the matter of greatest
importance in the whole building, so it is the very master-
piece of the wisest builder."f And Bishop Wilson, in his
primitive administration of the diocese of Sodor and Man,
having established Catechising as the general usage of the
Churches, after prayers in the afternoon, instead of a ser-
mon, refused permission, in a single instance, to depart
from this arrangement, on the ground that he considered
it of more use io the souls both of the learned and the igno-
rant than the very best sermon from the pulpit. And in a
Charge delivered in his eighty-fifth year, he states his
Opinion, as "a truth not to be questioned, that the plainest
sermon from the pulpit will not be understood, nor profit any
who has not been well instructed in the principles of Chris-
tianity contained in the Church Catechism." "These,"
he continues, "are foundation principles, and such as every
pastor of souls is obliged to explain, as he hopes ever to
do good by his other sermons and labours. We say to
explain, not only in set discourses from the pulpit, but in a
plain familiar manner, where questions may be asked, and
things explained, so as both old and young may be edified.
Preaching will always be our duty, but of little use, to
those who understand not the meaning of the words which
we make use of in our sermons, as, God knows, too many
* The Peace-maker, section 2 — Works, viii. 90.
■(■ Sermon before King James I.
must be supposed to do for want of being instructed in
their younger years." — Now against the evil thus earnestly
deprecated by one, than whom there never was a wiser or
better man, the office of Catechising presents a double
barrier — first, as it makes the learners intimately familiar
with the Scriptures, and then with the Scriptures as re-
ceived and set forth in the Church. The Scriptures are
the truth, containing all things necessary for salvation. —
The Church is the ground and pillar of the truth — on which
it rests, by which it is sustained and guarded, from which
it is presented to mankind, in due connection with the min-
istry, the ordinances, the institutions and the worship of
the Apostles. And the true use and value of her catechet-
ical instructions is well stated by the last biographer of
our illustrious Hobart — who was himself not only a great
admirer of this good old form of teaching, but a great friend
also to the old-fashioned mode of catechising in the Church
— as designed to attach her members, " by the power of
early habit, to her doctrines, her discipline, and her wor-
ship ; making them not theologians but Christians, and
not Christians in a vague and general sense, but Christians
in the Church : recognizing in what it teaches the doctrines
of the Gospel ; in the sacraments which it administers the
covenanted means of grace; in its ministry, a divine com-
mission from Christ and his Apostles; and in its services
a rational and heart-felt worship offered to Almighty God."*
It will not need much demonstration to establish from
all this the inference, that Catechising tends greatly to shut
out error from the Church, and to promote integrity of
doctrine. " With respect to the catechetical institution of
• McVickar's Professional Years of Hobart, p. 71.
youth," says Bishop Jcbb, " I would remind you that it
was the primitive method ; employed by the Apostles and
their immediate followers, and in after ages by the whole
succession of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, for train-
ing up and organizing the community of Christians in
sound principles of faith, in the love of God and man, and
in purity of life and conversation. It is observable accord-
ingly, that in exact proportion as Catechising has been
practised or neglected, the public faith and morals have
been seen to flourish or decline ;" " and it is not too much
to say, that next to an established liturgy, and beyond all
prescribed confessions of faith, the single ordinance of cate-
chetical institution has, under Providence, been the great
stay and support throughout Christendom of orthodox un-
The benefit of Catechising, designed especially for chil-
dren and young persons, runs over and does good to all
the congregation. This is expressed with great simplicity
by holy Herbert, in his Country Parson. " He requires
all to be present at Catechising : first for the authority of
the work ; secondly, that parents or masters, as they hear
the answers prove, may, when they come home, cither
commend or reprove, either reward or punish ; thirdly,
that those of the elder sort, who are not well grounded,
may then, by an honourable way, take occasion to be
better instructed ; fourthly, that those who are well-grown
in the knowledge of religion, may examine their grounds,
review their errors, and by occasion of both enlarge their
meditations."! " By-standers of all degrees of attainment
take an interest in observing how the scroll of human
* Primary Charge. f Parson Catechising.
nature is unfolded by this exercise. They are pleased in
seeing the effects which religious doctrine has upon youth-
ful minds and hearts — in listening to replies which display
the different dispositions and capacities of children — in
witnessing the development of character and genius — and
in comparing their own religious advancement and acquire-
ments with those of the juvenile circle before them. Many
of my congregation have made no secret of confessing
that they could not answer questions proposed as well as
the children have done, and that they have been thankful
for the opportunity of picking up information without the
shame or the trouble of asking for it. They have made
a still more important acknowledgment — that they have
taken kindly bints and rebukes which were aimed at them
through younger marks, when a direct reproof would have
been intolerable." " The simplicity of the Gospel thus
triumphs unexpectedly over the wisdom of the wise; and
praise is perfected out of the mouths of babes and suck-
It may be thought that the Catechising so administered
will supersede the Sunday School. I answer, no, it will
improve and elevate it. The Sunday School system is the
application of the great principle of division of labour to
the arduous work of pastoral instruction. The Teachers
of the Sunday School are thus the Pastor's deputies — his
constant supervision, and personal direction of the whole
machinery, being indispensable not only to its working well,
but to his faithful discharge of his great trust. The Cate-
chising supplies the Pastor with an admirable test of the
faithfulness of the Teachers and of the improvement of
* Gilly, Horse CatecheticE, 150, 71.
the Scholars. It is his touchstone, to try them, if they be
sound in doctrine, if they understand what they read, if
they grow in grace. — Nor is this all. It is a nursery of
teachers. The Church has suffered much from teachers
that had need to learn. The religious instruction of the
young has been intrusted to those who were themselves
deficient in the first principles of Christian knowledge.
Another age must reap, it must be feared, the bitter harvest
that has been sown in this. The remedy is to be found
in the adoption of the mode of catechetical instruction. Of
those who are so trained up, it will be true, as of the
youthful Timothy, that from children they have known the
Scriptures. Rooted and grounded in the faith, they may
be trusted, under the pastoral direction, to establish others.
Uniform in doctrine and in practice, built up as living
stones upon the sure foundation, the Church of Christ will
thus be reared, " an holy temple, acceptable to God,
through Jesus Christ our Lord."
It is a fact most worthy to be noticed, says Shepherd, in
his Elucidation of the Book of Common Prayer, that " how-
ever individuals or societies have differed in other points,
on the utility and necessity of Catechising all have agreed
— ancients and moderns ; Europeans, Asiatics and Afri-
cans ; Greeks and Latins ; Papists and Protestants ; Lu-
therans and Calvinists ; the Church of England and Dis-
senters. Luther in the beginning of the Reformation wrote
two Catechisms ; and he assures us that Catechising
afforded him more delight than any other ministerial
duty." The Church of Rome makes diligent and most
effectual use of its instructions. The Council of Trent,
in the preface to their Catechism, bear powerful, though
reluctant testimony to the value of that office — " the age
is sadly sensible what mischief they (the Protestants) have
done the Church of Rome, not only by their tongues, but
especially by those writings called Catechisms." To Cate-
chising, Baxter, the great Nonconformist, attributed much
of his success at Kidderminster. " When I came thither
first, there was about one family in a street that worship-
ped God, and called upon his name ; and when I came
away, there were some streets, where there was not past
one family in the side of a street that did not so, and that
did not, by professing serious godliness, give us hopes of
their sincerity. And those families which were the worst,
being inns and alehouses, usually some person in each
house did seem to be religious. When I set upon a per-
sonal conference with each family, and catechising them,
there were very few in all the town that did refuse to
come."* And of Eliot, the Indian Missionary, who was
indefatigable in Catechising, it is said that " he left a well
principled people behind him."
The institution of Catechising, so commended by the
wisest and the best that have adorned and blessed the
Church of Christ, fell for a season into disregard- It is
among the signs of the times that give best promise of a
brighter age, that in every quarter attention to it has lately
been revived. Christians of every name, with self-reproach
for their past negligence, resume the instructions of the
Catechism. I need not tell you, reverend brethren, how
highly I commend their wisdom. I need not tell you how
greatly I desire the restoration of the ancient ordinance to
its primitive relations. It is grateful to me to know, that
in these views I do but sympathize with my revered pre-
* Life and Times.
decessor, who, in two successive Charges, urged upon you
with conclusive earnestness the same important subject.*
I rejoice to see that every year confirms the wisdom of this
course. I fondly trust that in this diocese the Church may
one day be restored, in this, not only, but in other points,
to the pure pattern of primitive observance. I put on
record, in the expressive words of Bishop Hall, the strong
conclusions of my personal experience — " the most useful
of all preaching is catechetical ; this being the ground, the
other raiseth the walls and roofe — this informs the judg-
ment, that stirs up the affections. What good use is there
of those affections that runne before the judgment? Or
of those walls that want a foundation ? For my part, I
have spent the greater halfe of my life in this station of
our holy service : I thank God not unpainfully nor unprofi-
tably. But there is no one thing of which I repent so
much, as not to have spent more houres in this public
exercise of catechisme ; in regard whereof I would quarrel
with my very sermons, and wish that a great part had
been exchanged for this preaching conference.""!"
My reverend brethren, the " little children " whom the
Church commends to our assiduous care will soon be men
and women. Shall they " grow in grace and in the know-
ledge and love of God," and so be pillars in his house ?
Or shall they be left to the evil bias of their fallen nature,
and to the evil influence of " the instruction which causeth
to err," and so be wretched here, and lost hereafter?
What we do for "little children," we do for future genera-
tions, we do for eternity. It is ours to mould their character ;
• See Bishop Croes' Charges, in 1819, and in 1829.
f Dedication of " The old Religion," Works ix, p. 224.
and so to order, under God, the character of the community.
It is ours to win them, if it so please him, for the Lord ; and
so to do our part in preparing for the Saviour, what he pur-
chased with his own blood, " a glorious Church, not having
spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing." Shall we be wanting
to such responsibilities ? Shall we be negligent of such op-
portunities ? Difficulties doubtless there are and discourage-
ments ; and because we cannot do in all respects precisely
as we would, and precisely when we would, we are tempted
sometimes to give up the effort in despair. But discourage-
ments and difficulties are among the tokens that the work
we are engaged in is of God. Discouragements and diffi-
culties are a part of that discipline by which the Lord
would harden us, and strengthen us to do him better ser-
vice. In the cause of Christ, for the glory of his Church,
to promote the welfare of our kind, what is there that we
cannot bear, and what, with God to help us, that we can-
not do? Remembering that the work is his, that the
strength is his, that the reward is his, be it ours to give
ourselves wholly up to do and bear his will. Who are
we that we should be God's fellow-workers in establishing
the kingdom of his Son ! How unworthy of that holy fel-
lowship, if we are not prepared in all things, to die or live
for its accomplishment ! How animating the assurance of
that reward in heaven, which — not according to our desert,
beloved brethren, but according to our desire — shall crown
and overpay our utmost efforts to do the will of God !
My reverend brethren, there is one point of pastoral duty,
so important to the influence of our office, so absolutely
indispensable to the success of all your efforts in the care
of" little children," and yet so apt to be neglected, or per-
formed imperfectly, that I feel bound in the most solemn
manner to urge it here and now upon your notice. To
have an influence with little children, you must domesti-
cate yourselves among them. A stranger cannot gain
their love. The pastor who goes in and out among them,
who calls them by their names, who is among them as a
father — he gains their confidence, he enshrines himself
within their hearts. Nor is it only for their sakes that I
commend and urge the duty of pastoral visitation. To
" turn the hearts of the children to the fathers, and of the
fathers to the children," is a work, for which one day in
seven will not suffice. Though you " speak with the
tongues of angels," if you do not follow up the lessons of
the pulpit, " from house to house," among your people,
your labour will too often be in vain. You must add to
the authority of the teacher the influence of the friend.
You must watch for opportunity, lay wait for souls, and
take them with a holy guile. " If you would have access
to a man's heart," said that shrewd observer, Richard Cecil,
" you must go into his house." And it is so. You take
him by the hand. You sit by his hearth. You are par-
taker at his board. You are at home with him, and you
enable him to feel at home with you. You gain his con-
fidence. You touch the electric chain of sympathy. You
possess yourself of his affections. You draw him with " the
cords of a man." — My reverend brethren, you underrate
what I must call your potential influence with your people,
and which a little more of pastoral familiarity would render
actual and effectual. You do not know how much they
reverence your office. You do not know how well dis-
posed they are to love your persons. You do not know
how much they long to speak with you " as a man speak-
eth with his friend ;" and how many times the smoking
flax, that at a favourable moment might have kindled into
flame, has been put out for want of opportunity. Every
where, my reverend brethren, I receive the liveliest evi-
dence of the people's approbation of your public labours.
Too often is it qualified with deep regret, that they are not
indulged in greater measures with your pastoral inter-
course. I know that these complaints are sometimes with-
out reason. But they spring from feelings that do honour
to your office. They attest the general estimation of your
personal worth. I rejoice to hear them. I beseech you
not to disregard them. Accept the challenge which they
give. Go in, and occupy the willing hearts that wait on
your acceptance. Win them through Christ. Win them
to holiness. Win them for heaven.
My brethren, reverend and beloved, the care of souls is
a tremendous care. It calls for all our talents, for all our
efforts, and for all our time. To be faithful in it, to find
a blessing in it, we must give ourselves wholly up to it, and
draw our cares and studies all that way. A world is no
equivalent to one immortal soul. Ten thousand worlds
would be no purchase for one moment of their endless joy,
who are " forever with the Lord."
From little down to least — in due degree,
Around the Pastor, each in new-wrought vest.
Each with a vernal posy at his breast,
We stood, a trembling, earnest company !
With low, soft murmur, like a distant bee,
Some spake, by thought-perplexing fears betrayed ;
And some a bold unerring answer made ;
How fluttered then my anxious heart for me,
Beloved Mother ! Thou whose happy hand
Had bound the flowers I wore, with faithful tie ;
Sweet flowers ! at whose inaudible command
Her countenance, phantom-like, doth re-appear ;
O lost too early for the frequent tear,
And ill requited by this heartfelt sigh ! — Wobdsworth.
Every youth can preach, but he must be a man indeed who can
profitably catechise. — Thomas Fcllf.ii.
The terms Catechise, Catechism, and Catechetical, (from
the Greek word KaT^'u, to sound aloud, to resound,) are
applied to signify instruction conveyed, not by writing, or
according to any regular and continued discourse, but by
some familiar and brief method of vivci voce teaching. Thus
St. Luke, in his Gospel, chapter i, verses 3 and 4 ;
not, ypi^at, xpatioti Qeofyite.
"iva irtvyvus rtSpi oiv xar^vjjfyj "koyuv Tr^v dcf ^aXaav.
" It seemed good to me also, having had perfect un-
derstanding of all things from the very first, to write unto
thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest
know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been
instructed," — i. e. I think it right to give you a written and
succinct account of those things in which you have been
initiated, or which you have been taught, catechetically*
or by word of mouth, or by having them sounded in your
St. Luke uses the same word in a similar sense. — Acts
OutoJ j]» zaTj^fAEvoj tr^v bSw t& Kiipi's.
"This man was [catechetically] instructed in the Gos-
pel." — i. e. He had been initiated in the Gospel, or, he had
acquired the principles of it, by hearing them delivered to
him viva voce.
* Stephens, Parkhurst, Hammond, Horsley.
That the instruction which Apollos had received was
elementary only, is clear from the context, ver. 26. "Whom
when Aquilla and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto
them, and expounded unto him the way of God more per-
St. Paul evidently applies the same term in the sense of
oral instruction, 1 Cor. xiv. 19, — JW xai' aj.ta? xar^r^u,
" that by my voice I might teach others."
After the Apostles had adopted the word, it was in very
common use among the Fathers of the Primitive Church,
to signify their peculiar mode of teaching the rudiments of
Christianity by question and answer, and by impressing
the lessons of the Gospel on the hearts of their Neophytes
by frequent repetition.
Hence the Catechist was said to instruct, by making the
elements of Christian doctrine resound in the ears of his
students ; and the Catechumen was said to be taught by
repeating the words addressed to him, and by answering
"Catechism," says Comber, "according to the definition
of an ancient author, is, the knowledge of Religion frst
delivered to the ignorant by the Catechist, and then by
them repeated over and orer again. Kar^j;itj litiv
iftiatr^fi.r' OfOSfjSti'aj foTf drtfi'poiy , -/) 5= rtapa6o£f;iaa £co xa.Tr;-
^fov, xai rtaxiv artoSoSstua \i7t aurwy." — Clemens Alexan-
drinus. Which, continues Comber, appears farther from
the very original of the word, being derived from fyu, that
is an echo, or a repeated sound ; because the Catechist did
first teach them, and then, by way of question, try if they
had learnt what he had delivered to them : which gave good
grounds to the authors of the Roman Catechism to say,
" That the manner of the Apostle's Catechising, which the
Church yet imitates, in the mysteries of Baptism, consisted
of Questions and Answers."
Another Expositor of Catechetical instruction calls Cat-
echising " A general instruction in the fundamental prin-
ciples of the Christian Religion, by way of question and
I have merely to add to this statement, that the question-
ing and answering must be mutual, and that the Catechist
does not do his duty by the Catechumen, unless he gives
him an opportunity not only of repeating the lesson, but of
asking for explanations, and of returning the sense as well
echoing back the sound of his instructor.
Those other divine discourses en-
riche the brain and the tongue;
this settles the heart : those other
are but the descants to this plaine
song. Contemn it not, my bre-
thren, for its easie and noted home-
linesse; the most excellent and
beneficial things are most familiar.
As one of the Incumbents in your Lordship's dio-
cese, I had the advantage of hearing that Charge, in which
you dwelt with considerable earnestness upon the duty of
Catechising, a duty which has been well defined * to be,
" Instruction communicated by asking questions, and hear-
ing and correcting the answers."
Your Lordship's directions upon this subject were pre-
ceded by some strong observations upon the relation which
ought to subsist between a parochial Clergyman and his
congregation, — and upon the means that should be adopted
to bring the parishioner, from his earliest days, into imme-
diate contact with his spiritual guide.
I have reason to be thankful for the impression, for the
deep and lasting impression, which this part of your Lord-
ship's Charge left on my mind. It led me to think more
seriously, than I had ever done before, upon the practica-
bility of establishing the relation which you recommended,
and of having recourse to those primitive ordinances, and
to the exercise of those eudearing pastoral duties, which
cannot fail of attaching the people to their constituted min-
isters. Having derived benefit from your Lordship's sug-
gestions, and having been permitted, as I trust, to become
an instrument of that good to others, which is likely to re-
suit from a regular system of catechetical instruction, I am
anxious to give some publicity to the mode which I have
• Bishop Mailt. Notes on the Catechism.
pursued, in conformity with your directions, and to its suc-
cessful issue. It is for this reason that I now address your
Lordship ; and I am encouraged to do so, not only by the
patient ear, which you have always lent to every personal
communication, when I have reported from time to time
the progress of my experiment, — but also by the desire ex.
pressed by your Lordship, that I should commit an account
of it to print. But judging from one or two of the senti-
ments expressed in your Charge, that much as you wish
and hope to see public catechising resumed, you entertain
doubts as to the success, which may attend it equally in all
places, I shall venture to follow your Lordship through
your remarks, and to throw out a few reflections, as I pro-
ceed, upon the duty and expediency of a universal obedi-
ence to the instructions of the Church on this subject, be-
fore I enter upon an explanation of the system pursued by
EXTRACT FROM THE BISHOP OF LONDON'S CHARGE.
The following is the passage in your Lordship's Charge,
to which I feel indebted for an impulse, which has given a
new and more efficient character to my ministerial labours.
" The general disuse into which this practice (Catechi-
sing) has fallen, I consider as calamitous to the interests of
piety in the highest degree, not only by removing one of
the strongest incitements to the parents to teach, and to
the children to learn, the doctrines and laws of their Chris-
tian profession, but still more by its fatal efTect in frustrat-
ing the purpose, which it was the principal object of the
ordinances relating to these points to attain. If at the age
when the mind is susceptible of the strongest impressions,
the young are regularly brought into personal intercourse
with their minister, and accustomed to receive their instruc-
tions from his lips, they will naturally imbibe a respect for
his person, and a reverence to the sacred character of his
office, which will prove the strongest of barriers against
immorality and vice, as well as dissent and infidelity.
They will regard with deep veneration the truths which
they have received upon his authority, and will feel, — what
reasoning can hardly make clear to the ignorant, — the dan-
ger no less of guilt than of error, in deserting the appointed
guide of their youth for intrusive and unknown teachers.
The discontinuance of this salutary practice is imputable,
neither to the neglect of the ecclesiastical governors, — for
they have constantly remonstrated against it, — nor to the
indolence of the parochial Clergy ; but was a concession
most reluctantly yielded to the fastidious impatience of
" I am not so fondly attached to ancient usages, however
beneficial in themselves, as to press the crude and hasty
revival of a method of teaching, which, at least in its ordi-
nary form, has proved on experience unsuitable to the
habits and feelings of modern times. To ensure success
to the experiment, much judgment would be requisite in
preparing the way by the previous removal of objections,
and improving the practice itself by such modifications, as
would render it popular as well as useful."*
[* The admirable Charge hero citeJ was delivered by Dr. How-
ley, the present Archbishop of Canterbury, when Bishop of London,
at his Visitation, in July, 1822.— American Editor:]
CATECHISING, THE UNIFORM PRACTICE OF THE ROMAN
CATHOLIC CLERGY ABROAD.
Very soon after hearing your Lordship deliver these
sentiments, I visited the continent ; but the impression was
not to be effaced by time or distance, nay, I may confi-
dently affirm that the convictions of my mind were strength-
ened during this visit, and that my intercourse with stran-
gers, and my personal observation of the practice of foreign
Clergy, made it more and more clear to me, that parochial
discipline cannot be duly maintained, without the assistance
of a regular Catechetical system.
The Roman Catholic priesthood are by far too prudent
to lose the advantages, which are gained from an early
and uninterrupted relation with the younger part of their
flock. "Feed my lambs," is an injunction which they
obey to the very letter ; and they suffer none, no, not even
parents themselves, to stand between them and their sacred
duty in this department.* It is from the priest's lips that
the children of the Romish communion of every degree, re-
ceive religious instruction, as soon as they can well under-
stand what religion is ; and they naturally reverence the
teacher, who first approaches them in the venerable char-
acter of God's minister, and love the instructor, who min-
gles words of kindness and encouragement with his solemn
lessons of Christianity. I bear willing testimony to the
zealous and affectionate manner in which the Romish Cler-
gy acquit themselves in this duty. The council of Trentf
[ * Would that we were but as wise ! We should not then hear of
Protestant children brought up in troops at Romish Schools — a fa-
vour which they never reciprocate. — Am. Ed.]
•f Concil. Trid. Sess. 24.
had the sagacity to make catechising one of the most bind-
ing of the sacerdotal services ; and in the Preface of the
Catechism which was first published by order of this coun-
cil, a curious remark occurs, which shows how great an
advantage is to be gained over our adversaries by strict at-
tention to this duty. " The age is sadly sensible what mis-
chief the Protestants have done the Catholic Church, not
only by their tongues, but especially by their writings
The ministers of the Church of Rome have the good
sense to obey the Canon, not as " by constraint, but wil-
lingly ;" and in sincere admiration of their conduct in this
respect, I cannot forbear applying to them the whole of
that scriptural passage, towards which my thoughts have
been led, and adding, that if, in taking the oversight of
their flock, with a ready mind, they bear themselves to-
wards their youthful charge, as the Apostle enjoined, so
they may likewise be fairly held up to us, as " examples."
Nothing can be more kind or parental than their cate-
chetical examinations. They do not leave it to parish
clerks, or to teachers of an ordinary stamp, to drawl
through the same form of words, day after day, and to se-
cure rote without meaning, but they themselves are the ju-
dicious expounders. I have entered Churches in France,
in Italy, and in Switzerland, and have witnessed the same
beautiful scene of a parish priest, surrounded by children
of various ranks and ages, mildly questioning, patiently
explaining, exhorting, reproving, and instructing like " a
man of God," rewarding with smiles of approbation, and
rewarded in return by the happy and animated looks of the
cheerful circle. In almost all the cases to which I allude,
I myself, was the only spectator, and that too often-times,
unseen by the priest ; who therefore was manifestly dis-
charging this interesting duty, not to be heard or seen of
men, but to obtain that influence over his juvenile audience,
which the sanctity of his office may justly claim.
THE PRACTICE OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CLERGY IN
My Lord, the same practice, and the same tender and
watchful concern over the rising generation, prevail among
the Clergy of the Roman Catholic Church in England.
They begin to exert their influence during the earliest in-
fancy ; they do not suffer catechising to fall into inefficient
hands ; they do not conduct it as a mere formulary ; they
do not confine it to seasons, but they make it to be of sub-
stantial, and lasting use, by obtaining through its instru-
mentality a fast hold upon the affections and respect of
their flock. It will not be out of place to remark, that I
am inclined to attribute a very great measure of the suc-
cess which the papists have had of late, in effecting con-
version, to the mode of catechising which they have adopted.
Their catechetical instructions are not given, as on the Con-
tinent, merely with a view to the benefit of young hearers,
of their own communion, but to seduce such of our people
as may chance to drop in, and listen to them. For this
purpose all possible notoriety is extended to the proceeding,
and the opportunity is embraced, of putting forth such apo-
logetical, familiar, and attraotive,* expositions of their doc-
trine and discipline, as may lead astray the unsettled and
wavering professors of a purer faith.
• The following extract from the form of Catechism, " recom-
This sort of effort answers the purpose better than all
the controversy in the world ; it is the argument of an ac-
tive life which convinces common understandings : and if
mended by authority, for the use of the faithful in the four districts
in England," under the signature of the four Vicars Apostolic, will
give some idea of the manner in which catechising is conducted in
this country by the Roman Catholics. —
The first Commandment.
Q. Say the first Commandment*
A. I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of
Egypt, and out of the house of bondage.
Thou shall not have strange gods before me. Thou shalt not
make to thyself any graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing
that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things
that are in the -waters under the earth ; thou shalt not adore them,
nor serve them. Iam the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting
the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth
generation of them that hate me: and shewing mercy unto thou-
sands to them that love me, and keep my commandments. Eiod.
xx. 2. 6.
Q. Why put you all this in one commandment"!
A. Because it all relates to one and the same thing.
Q. Does not the Scripture say that these words, Thou shalt not
make to thyself any graven thing, are the second commandment?
A. No : the Scripture does not say which is the first, second, or
Q. Do not those words, Thou shalt not make to thyself any gra-
ven thing, forbid the making of images'?
A. No : they forbid the making only of idols ; that is, they forbid
making images to be adored, or honoured, as gods : as it is declared
in these words, Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them. So that
the words, Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven thing, &c. are
only an explanation of the foregoing words, Thou shalt not have
our own Clergy would take similar pains to render their
personal office a pattern of zeal, marked by affection, they
would be rebuilding the Church upon a basis of moral
strength, against which the storm raised by papists or
strange gods before me. We, therefore, with Saint Augustine,
make of them but one commandment.
Q. What is meant by these first words, I am the Lord thy God, & c.1
A. By these God declares to us, that he is our true and supreme
Lord, and therefore we are obliged to obey him with all diligence.
Q. What are we commanded by this first commandment?
A. By the first commandment, we are commanded to love, serve,
and worship one only true and living God, and no more.
Q. What is forbidden by the first commandment ?
A. The first commandment forbids us to worship idols, or give to
any creature the honour due to God ?
Q. What is the honour due to God ?
A. The honour due to God is a supreme and sovereign honour,
which can be given to no other : we must worship him as our Crea-
tor, Redeemer, and last end.
Q. Is it lawful to honour the images of Christ and his saints?
A. Yes : it is lawful to honour the images of Christ and his saints,
with an inferior and relative honour, because the honour given them
is referred to the things they represent : so that by kissing the cross,
or the images of Christ, and by kneeling before them, we honour
and adore Christ himself.
Q. Do Catholics pray to images ?
A. No, by no means ; we pray before them indeed, to keep us
from distractions, but not to them ; for we know they can neither
see, nor hear, nor help us.
Q. What benefit have we then by them ?
A. They movingly represent to us the mysteries of our Saviour's
passion, and the martyrdom of his saints.
Q. What benefit have wc by honouring and canonizing saints?
A. It strongly moves us to imitate their example, by showing us
separatists, would beat in vain. I would say with Arch-
deacon Bayley, in his admirable charge,* " Let it not be a
matter of offence, if I venture to declare my honest opinion,
that in this labour of love, we, the Establishment, have yet
somewhat to learn from other Protestant Societies, more
especially from the Priesthood of the Roman Catholic com-
munion. They are wise in their generation. And as we
we were long since, and truly told, < if we hope to be a
match for them, we must imitate them."'f
Instruction given in Sunday, Charity, or National
Q. How do we honour saints and angels'!
A. We honour saints and angels with an inferior honour, as the
friends and creatures of God, not as gods, nor with God's honour.
Q. Is it lawful to honour the relics of saints 1
A. Yes, with a relative honour, as above explained ; for the hand-
kerchiefs and aprons which had but touched the body of St. Paul,
cast out devils, and cured all diseases. Acts xix. 12.
•To the Clergy of the Archdeaconry of Stowe, May, 1826.
■)■ The observations which Bishop Burnet made upon this subject,
more than 1 30 years ago, are so strictly applicable to the present
times, that I cannot forbear recording them in this place. " Though
there is still much ignorance among their mass-priests, their parish-
priests are generally another sort of men. They are well instructed
in their religion, lead regular lives, and perform their parochial du-
ties with most wonderful diligence. They are almost perpetually
employing themselves in the several parts of their cures : — instruct-
ing the youth — hearing confessions, and visiting the sick, &c. So
that the reformation which popery hath been forced to make, has in
a great measure stopped the progress of the reformation of the doc-
trinal worship, that did so long carry every thing before it." — Pre-
face to Pastoral Care. — "The argument," said Bumet, in another
place, " in favour of the Church, how clearly so ever made out, will
never have a full effect upon the world, till we can show a primitive
spirit in its administration."
Schools, is not an evidence of pastoral anxiety, equal to
that of catechetical instruction in Church, it being conducted
for the most part with closed doors ; and constant as a
minister's attendance may be in those schools, his labours
are unknown to his parishioners at large. Where is the
wonder, then, that unreflecting persons, who try modes of
faith by the zeal of its ministers, and who have had no op-
portunity of seeing their own Clergy display anxious in-
terest in the religious cultivation of the younger portion of
his flock, should be half won over to the side of the Ro-
man Catholic priest, when he beholds him devoting him-
self to the spiritual improvement of the youngest and hum-
blest, and dullest of his congregation, and hears him ex-
plaining the most beguiling of papal doctrines, in a voice
and with a manner which seems to prove that his whole
heart is in the cause ?
AN INSTRUMENT OF PROSELYTISM.
My Lord, I do not speak unadvisedly, nor ill-naturedly,
(for it is not in the shape of a charge against them that I
adduce the fact, (when I touch upon the seductive intention
and the seductive effect, of the catechetical lectures held by
Roman Catholic Priests in England. There is, in the im-
mediate vicinity of London, one of the most flourishing of
their establishments for the education of poor children.
Many of those admitted here are the children of Protestant*
* The following case has been communicated to me by the gen-
tleman who took it down, as it was detailed by the mouth of his in-
parents, girls especially, for it is an object to gain over fe-
males, the future mothers of families. Their infatuated
parents have been tempted to send them to this institution,
not merely for the sake of the aid which it affords to per-
sons of large families in an humble condition of life, — but
by the effect which the priests' mode of catechising has had
upon their own judgment or imagination.
A reference to " The Laity's Directory to the Church
Service, for the year 1828," published for Roman Catho-
lics, with the authority of the Vicar Apostolic in England,
will furnish some solid proofs of the importance which the
Hierarchy of Rome attach to the duty of catechising young
formant. The child to whom it relates is now a well-behaved and
intelligent scholar of the Sunday school of Somers-Town, New
"About two years and a half ago, soon after my being left by my
husband, a tall person, (a priest) called upon me, and having asked
me if my name was not Fames, enquired if I had not a child. I re-
plied, yes. He then asked how I provided for him. I told him by my
own labour ; he then asked, did I not find it very difficult to do it ?
and, upon my replying that I did, he said, does he go to any school 1
I told him to Perry-street, a school conducted on the Lancastrian sys-
tem, where the children's friends pay 2d per week, for the instruction
given. He then said, had I not better send him to some charity
school 1 I replied, I should be glad if I could get him into one
where he could be boarded; upon this he told me he knew where
there was such an one ; I then asked where, and if he could inform
me how I could get him into it? He told me to come at 8 o'clock,
(I think it was at eight o'clock) on the next Sunday morning, to the
Roman Catholic chapel in Clarendon-square. Oh ! I said, you want
to make a Catholic of him then ? He said, no, he might come to the
school and not be a Catholic; and if I would send him every morn-
ing by eight o'clock, that they would keep him ; they had a great
number they did so by. I said they did not allow them to read the
persons publicly, in the place of divine worship. The hour
of catechising is regularly advertised among the services of
the Church: and in the notices of twenty -five .chapels in,
or very near London, care is taken to announce that cate-
chetical instruction forms part of the solemnities of eleven
out of that number. For example,
" St. Mary's, Moorfields. A discourse after the gospel
at high mass, and vespers on Sundays at three o'clock, and
catechism immediately after."
" Sardinian chapel, Duke-street, Lincoln's-inn-fields. Af-
ter the gospel, at high mass on Sunday, a discourse in En-
glish : vespers at three o'clock, immediately after which
catechism, and a catechetical discourse."
Bible ; — he replied they did, those parts which were fit for them, and
that they taught children their duty to their parents, that the Catho-
lic children were much better behaved than the Perry-street boys.
Then I perceive you are a Catholic yourself, I observed. He replied)
rather so. I then said, I could not agree to his going : he said I was
very wrong, for if I did, that I might be sure I should have employ-
ment for myself, and my child provided for ; he desired me to come
on the following Sunday, and hear the children catechised, he was
sure I should approve of it. I told him I would consider of it. He
then left me ; but came again in about a fortnight, and complained
that I was not at the chapel. He then asked where was your boy
on the Sabbath day, if you were out at work 1 He told me if I
would come on the Sunday morning to the chapel, I should be re-
lieved ; that I need not work on the Sabbath-day : I stated I had been
in a Roman Catholic chapel but twice, and in my present mind, I
should not enter one again. He then left me, saying, he should call
again ; but did not. — Throughout these conversations he called me
It is notorious that many Protestant children, drawn away thus,
are brought up in this Roman Catholic establishment. One poor
man has been persuaded to send two of his children there.
" Chelsea New Chapel. Catechism at half-past two, and
vespers, with benediction, at half-past three."
" London Road. Vespers in summer at half-past three,
in winter at three o'clock : after vespers the catechism ex-
"Somers Town. At six, catechism, followed by the
benediction of the blessed Sacrament."
PRACTISED BY THE FOREIGN PROTESTANT CLERGY.
It would be needless to produce any further testimony of
the exemplary anxiety displayed by the Romish clergy to
bring themselves into regular intercourse with the young. I
will therefore proceed to make a few brief remarks upon
the value, which the Protestant, as well as Roman Catholic,
Churches on the Continent attach to public catechising, as
an indispensable branch of the clerical office.
De Thou's account of the pains, which the ministers of
the Reformed Churches of France took, in past times, to
lay a good foundation, at an age, when the mind is suscep-
tible of the strongest impressions, is literally applicable to
the present period of their ecclesiastical history. "You
can scarcely find a boy among them who cannot give you
an intelligible account of the faith they profess." This was
said of them two hundred and fifty years ago : and, at a
still earlier date, a Popish theologian, who was sent to con-
vert the Protestants of Dauphine, came back ashamed of
his errand, and avowed that it was a hopeless case to at-
tempt to make proselytes, in a quarter where the youngest
were so well grounded in the principles of their creed by
their pastors.* " I have learnt," exclaimed he, " more of
the doctrine of salvation from the answers of little children
in their Catechism, than in all my previous studies."!
It is well known, that the Protestant congregations in
France and Switzerland, in their solicitude to remove as
far as possible from the stumbling blocks of Popish error,
tolerate but very few forms of prayer. Most of them have,
however, strongly marked their sense of the expediency of
public catechising, by admitting into their simple Liturgies
an order of service and form of prayer used for the prepar-
ation of Catechumens. But it is not in the sanctuary only,
that our Protestant brethren on the Continent impress upon
the minds of their juvenile congregations the awful respon-
sibility of the Christian covenant. They follow them to
their houses at stated intervals; and, extending their pas-
toral care to old as well as to young, they ask for an ac-
count of their studies and meditations in the bosoms of their
families. I have now an extract from a traveller's letter
before me, in which he writes thus of one of these inter-
" The pastor of was engaged in his district ex-
amination. The intention of this is to ascertain the reli-
gious and moral state of each hamlet. During the short
time we witnessed his labours, he asked his people if any
of them wished for an explanation of any particular pas-
sages of Scripture, which they had not clearly understood.
After having addressed himself to almost every one in par-
[ * An incident worthy of all observation. — Am. Ed.]
[ | The exercise of Catechising is to the teacher himself a constant
source of instruction and improvement. Let any try who doubt. —
ticular, he concluded by a most affectionate exhortation,
and a solemn prayer."
I myself had the satisfaction of being present at more than
one of the Catechetical lectures, which constitute a regular
division of the parochial minister's labours in the Protestant
valleys of Piedmont. At stated periods, the Churches are
opened on Mondays and Wednesdays for this mode of in-
struction expressly, and it is uniformly imparted by the
pastors themselves, although each village has its appointed
schoolmaster. Happily, the parochial clergy in these se-
cluded regions, are too sensibly alive to the interests of reli-
gion, to resign religious instruction entirely to lay-teachers.
ITS HAPPY EFFECTS.
The effect of this watchfulness over the spiritual progress
of their youthful flock is exactly what your Lordship has
so well expressed. " If the young are brought into regu-
lar intercourse with their ministers, and accustomed to re-
ceive their instructions from his lips, they will naturally
imbibe a respect for his person, and a reverence for the sa-
cred character of his office, which will prove the strongest
of barriers against immorality and vice, as well as dissent
and infidelity. They will regard with deep veneration the
truths which they have received upon his authority, and
will feel what reasoning can hardly make clear to the ig-
norant, the danger no less of guilt than of error in desert-
ing the appointed guide of their youth, for intrusive and
unknown teachers." Should there ever be that general
disuse of the practice of catechising in the little Church of
the valleys, which your Lordship bewails in this country,
as being « calamitous to the interests of piety in the highest
degree," and which has been well pronounced by another
authority to be " as unreasonable, as the effect is disas-
trous," I am persuaded that the light which has been permit-
ted by Divine Providence, to shine so long in the midst of
Papal darkness, will soon tremble in its lamp, and finally
be extinguished by Papal violence or stratagem.
I began this letter by expressing my gratitude to your
Lordship for directing my attention to the serious duty,
which, I trust nothing will ever induce me to neglect ; the
mention of the Vaudois of Piemont, leads me to acknowl-
edge another heavy debt, (and the digression will be al-
lowed,) under which they and I are bound to you.
It required the influence of exhortation and example to
render successful those endeavours, which humbler advo-
cates were making in behalf of this Protestant community.
Had not their cause been espoused by some person in au-
thority, it would have been hopeless. You, my Lord,
were the first to extend that aid which the case required.
Your influence, your advice, your time were freely given.
In the midst of many other pressing occupations, you were
always accessible. May you long have opportunities of
exercising one of the most graceful privileges of high sta-
tion, and continue to secure permanent sentiments of re-
spect, by similar instances of kindness and consideration !
To return to the more immediate subject in view. Your
Lordship has stated that the discontinuance of the salutary
practice of catechising " is imputable neither to the neglect
of the ecclesiastical governors, for they have constantly re-
monstrated against it, nor to the indolence of the parochial
Clergy ; but was a concession most reluctantly yielded to
the fastidious impatience of their congregations."
MEASURES WHICH HAVE BEEN ADOPTED IN ENGLAND TO
ENFORCE CATECHISING ON THE PART OF THE ESTAB-
My Lord, you have done no more than justice to the
heads of our Church, in saying that they have constantly
remonstrated against the neglect of this duty. The char-
ges of our most distinguished Prelates, for the last century
and a half, abound in expostulations with their Clergy on
account of their dereliction of it. Indeed the Liturgy, the
Canons, and the Rubric demand so strict an attention to
the letter of the precept, that it is impossible for our eccle-
siastical governors to pass over the violation of it in silence.
But, my Lord, I cannot help entertaining an opinion,
that little as the custom of catechising seems to prevail at
this time among the established Clergy of England, as
much attention is paid to the duty by the reflecting portion
of the profession now, as at any former period of our ec-
clesiastical history. Yes, lamentably remiss as we are in
this point, I think we can bear comparison with our ances-
tors, taken as a body. The theory of catechetical instruc-
tion has always been admitted to be beautiful ; but, with
strange inconsistency, the practice has ever been slack and
irregular.* My judgment is formed upon the injunctions
[Why should it be so 1— Am. Ed.]
and canons which have been put forth from time to time,
imposing penalties upon the non-performance of this ser-
vice, and upon the complaints which have never ceased to
issue from Archbishops and Bishops. So that it is really
difficult to ascertain which was the golden period, when
this " godly discipline, and laudable custom of the Church
of England," was in perfection.
Archbishop Cranmer spoke of its neglect, in the Dedica-
tion of his Catechism* to king Edward the Sixth, in the
year 1548, although a royal injunction for its strict obser-
vance had been promulgated in the former reign, twelve
CANONS OF EDWARD VI.
Public authority twice interfered during the last Ed-
ward's brief sovereignty. But what great benefit could be
expected from a limited order like the following?
" The curate of every parish, once in six weeks at the
least, upon warning by him given, shall upon some Sun-
day, or holiday, half an hour before evensong, openly in
the Church, instruct, and examine so many children of his
parish sent unto him, as the time will serve, and as he shall
think convenient, in some part of this catechism.")" And
all fathers, mothers, masters, and dames, shall cause their
* See Burnet's History of the Reformation. Vol. II. 71.
■j- This catechism was nearly the same as that now in use, save
that the part which relates to the sacraments, had not yet been ad-
ded. It was introduced after the conference in the reign of king
James I. between the Episcopalians and Puritans.
children, servants, and apprentices (which are not yet con-
firmed,) to come to the Church, at the time appointed, and
obediently hear, and be ordered by the curate, until such
lime as they have learnt all that is here appointed for them
to learn." 2. 5, Ed. VI.
An interval of six weeks * was permitted to elapse be-
tween each act of public instruction, and even then the
time specified was half an hour only. Little, indeed, was
likely to be gained, by such a process, on the part of an
illiterate population, very few of whom could read; and
whose ignorance therefore required that the curate should
recite the leading articles of our faith, little by little, till
the learners could repeat them by heart.
PENAL INJUNCTIONS OF ELIZABETH.
It is manifest enough, that nothing very effectual could
result from such an infrequent exercise of the duty, as that
with which the framers of Edward's injunction would have
been satisfied. And so it was found ; for by a very early
act of queen Elizabeth, the curate was required to perform
this service every second Sunday. The Constitutions of
1571 improved upon this provision, and inserted a clause
to the following effect :
* The injunctions and articles to be enquired of at the king's visi-
tation, in 1547, contained a query, put to " parsons, vicars, and cu-
rates," which was better calculated to secure the attention of the
Clergy, " Have you, on Sundays and holidays, taught your parish-
ioners, and especially the youth, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and
the ten commandments, and expounded the same? "
" On every Sunday, and holiday, at twelve o'clock, the
Clergy shall repair to their Churches, and there spend two
hours at least in reading and explaining the catechism ;
and they shall instruct therein all their parishioners, of
every age and condition ; and they shall take especial care
that none be permitted* to receive the Communion, or to
contract marriage, &c. before they can well and sufficient-
ly answer all the questions in the catechism.f"
From thenceforward we might suppose, that the object
of the Church was completely attained, and that clergy
and people submitted equally to this preremptory law. But
no ! twenty years afterwards, Archbishop Whitgift felt
himself constrained to notice the desuetude into which the
practice had fallen, and to exhort his suffragans, " In the
fear of God, according to their pastoral care, and by the
duty which they owed both to God and his Church, to give
straight charge to the clergy and their parishioners, to see
that the children, and other ignorant persons, were duly
instructed, and examined in their catechism, as, by the
orders of the Church, they ought to be.":}:
* Another penalty proposed during this arbitrary reign, was,
" That he, whose child, at ten years old and upwards, was not able
to say the catechism, should pay ten shillings to the poor's box ; the
like penalty to be inflicted upon masters and mistresses, who had
servants of fourteen years and upwards, who could not say the cate-
chism by heart."
f Wilk. iv. 265.
* " Anno. 1591. Reg. Whitgift, vol. i. 185."
CANONS OF JAMES I.
The 59th of " the Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiasti-
cal," agreed on in 1603, departed, in some degree, from
the severity of Elizabeth's enactments, but its penal char-
acter proves that the continued laxity of the clergy still
demanded a coercive hand.
" Every parson, vicar, or curate, upon every Sunday
and holy day, before evening prayer, shall, for half an
hour and more, examine and instruct the youth, and igno-
rant persons of his parish, in the ten commandments, the
Articles of the Belief, and in the Lord's Prayer : and shall
diligently hear, instruct, and teach them the catechism, set
forth in the Book of the Common Prayer. And all fathers,
mothers, masters, and mistresses, shall cause their chil-
dren, servants, and apprentices, which have not learned
the catechism, to come to the church, at the time appointed,
obediently to hear, and to be ordered by the minister un-
til they have learned the same. And if any minister neglect
his duty herein, let him be sharply reproved upon the first
complaint, and true notice thereof given to the Bishop or
Ordinary of the place. If, after submitting himself, he
shall wilfully offend again, let him be suspended. If so
the third time, there being little hope he will be therein
reformed, then excommunicated, and so remain, until he
will be reformed. And likewise if any of the said fathers,
masters, mistresses of the children, servants, or appren-
tices, shall neglect their duties, as the one sort in not caus-
ing them to come, and the other in refusing to learn, as
aforesaid, let them be suspended by their Ordinaries, (if
they be not children,) and if they so persist by the space
of a month, then let them be excommunicated."
It is manifest from the terms, " examine and instrvct,"
and " shall diligently hear, instruct, and teach," that the
canon exacts much more, than that the clergyman should
merely hear the children say the form of Church catechism
by rote. A careful instruction in the principles therein set
forth is the object of this canon : and in bishop Gibson's
" Codex Juris Ecclesiastici Anglicani," we find a note upon
the words " examine and instruct the youth," to the fol-
lowing effect : —
" In the Reformatio Legum there is an excellent rule
upon this head. One hour or more in the afternoon ser-
vice, f Let the parish priest take up the Catechism, and
give great attention to the explanation of it; for a frequent
exposition of the Catechism is of the utmost use and benefit
in the Church of God. And we wish this instruction to
be given not only to the children, but to the young persons
who are growing up, that they also may be well informed
in the principles of their religion, and that the assiduity of
the children may be stimulated by their presence.' "
But whether it was, that the express mention of the Ten
Commandments, the Articles of the Belief, and the Lortfs
Prayer, gave such a formal and limited construction to
the canon, as to defeat the more substantial object regarded
by the clause that immediately follows : viz. " shall diligent-
ly hear, instruct, and teach them the Catechism," &c. — or
that the service was rendered obnoxious by its appearance
of constraint, and by the penalties attached to the non-
performance of the duty, menacing both the negligent min-
ister, and the careless parents and masters, who would
not send their children to be so taught, — certain it is, that
the Church gained nothing in point of true allegiance by
having her ordinance thus defined and enforced.
" Your Majesty," said a Right Reverend preacher be-
fore King James, in 1624, « can never be sufficiently com-
mended, in taking order, that the chief heads of the Cate-
chism should, in the ordinary ministry, be diligently pro-
pounded, and explained unto the people throughout the
land ; which I wish were as duly executed every where,
as teas piously by you intended"
About the same period, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
in a letter written to the Archbishop of York, complained
thus grievously of the neglect of catechising, by the En-
glish Clergy : " The which kind of teaching, (to our amend-
ment be it spoken,) is more diligently observed in all the
reformed Churches of Europe, than of late it hath been
here in England. I find his majesty much moved with
this neglect, and resolved, if we Bishops do not see a refor-
mation hereof, which I trust we shall, to recommend it to
the care of the civil magistrate."
RUBRIC OF 1661.
In pursuing the enquiry, we shall find that the rubrics,
which were re-modelled in the reign of Charles II, have
not been much more successful, although they are in their
nature more obligatory than the canons, because they are
made binding by statute, as well as ecclesiastical law.
Within so short a period as ten years after their enactment,
Archbishop Sheldon, by the king's command, sent letters
to the Bishops, requiring them "to enforce the execution
of such laws and constitutions, as enabled them to enjoin
the use and exercise of our Church Catechism;" a pretty
clear proof of the general carelessness. Cosins, Bishop of
Durham, must have understood the extent of this insuffi-
ciency, when he observed,* that the rubric is expressed in
indefinite terms, and that a parochial Clergyman is not
obliged by it to catechise more frequently than he himself
thinks necessary. In one respect, by changing the time
from " half an hour before evening prayer," to an interval
" after the second Lesson," it varies directly from the 59th
canon, and so far the trumpet of the law gives an uncer-
tain sound. "The curate of every parish shall diligently,
upon Sundays and holy days, after the second Lesson at
evening prayer, openly in the Church instruct and exam-
ine so many children of his parish, sent unto him, as he
shall think convenient, in some part of the Catechism." f
INSUFFICIENCY OF THE RUBRIC TO REVIVE EFFECTIVB
The principal inconvenience of this rubric is found in
the time it enjoins for the exercise of the duty, which sel-
dom fails of exciting impatience in the congregation, and
of producing results inconsistent with the spirit of the ordi-
* See Shepherd on the Common Prayer, vol. ii. p. 276.
[■J- The requirements for the discharge of this duty among us are
rubrical and canonical. The rubric before the Catechism, or rather
the title of the Catechism, declares it "an instruction, to be learned
by every person before he be brought to be confirmed by the Bishop."
The rubrics after the Catechism prescribe that "the minister of
every parish shall diligently, upon Sundays and Holy-days, or on
some other convenient occasions, openly, in the Church, instruct or
nance. To catechise during an interval of Divine Service,
is to lose the effect of that more familiar and personal ex-
amination of each child, according to the nature of his
answers, which is the life and essence of the practice.
Moreover, while the minister is in the midst of the evening
prayer, and the congregation are silenced by the solemnity
of the Liturgy, it may be thought ill-timed and injurious
to the seriousness of their devotion, to interrupt them by a
process of interrogation, which may, occasionally, sink into
the ridiculous, by the replies of simple and ignorant child-
I should be sorry to put any wrong construction upon
your Lordship's sentiments, but I consider, that the follow-
ing passage in your Lordship's charge, has reference to
the inutility of confining ourselves to the system proposed
by the Rubric, and gives some warrant to the observations
which I have just hazarded. " I am not so fondly attached
to ancient usages, however beneficial in themselves, as to
press the crude and hasty revival of a method of teaching,
examine so many of the children of his parish, sent unto him, as he
shall think convenient, in some part of this Catechism." And again>
" all fathers, mothers, masters and mistresses, shall cause their chil-
dren, servants and apprentices, who have not learned their Cate-
chism, to come to the Church at the time appointed, and obediently
to hear, and to be ordered by the minister, until such time as they
have learned all that is here appointed for them to learn." The
Canon (twenty-eighth of 1832,) prescribes that " the ministers of
this Church, who have charge of parishes or cures, shall not only
be diligent in instructing the children in the Catechism, but shall
also, by stated catechetical lectures and instruction, be diligent in in-
forming the youth and others in the doctrines, constitution and litur-
gy of the Church."— Am. Ed.}
which, at least in its ordinary form, has proved, on expe-
rience, unsuitable to the habits and feelings of modern
What, indeed, is more likely to render a congregation
impatient, than to make a break in their devotions, for the
purpose of an exhibition, which has nothing in it either of
an instructive or impressive nature 1 They can say the
Catechism themselves, and they are aware, that the chil-
dren who are commanded to stand up before them, can
also repeat it. It is a congregational, and not a scholastic
exercise that is required: a service which shall employ
men's thoughts, remind them of that which they have for-
gotten, or explain that which they do not understand. A
well known manual, equally familiar to all present, repealed
over and over again, Sunday after Sunday, cannot by
any possibility produce the effect contemplated by those
who enjoined the ordinance. It might answer some good
when very few could read, and when the children, appren-
tices, and servants, had no other means of acquiring the
form of words, contained in the leading articles of the
Catechism, than from the mouth of the priest, as he dis-
tinctly recited them from the desk or pulpit. But now,
when it may be taken for granted, that the form is well
taught elsewhere, and that the attendant at Church is de-
sirous to leave the principles, or at all events, the mere
enunciation of Christian doctrines, and to go on unto per-
fection, it is, really, nothing but disappointment and vexa-
tion, if he be detained to listen to the same elementary ex-
amination, without the chance of carrying away with him,
a particle of additional knowledge.
• Charge of 1822, p. 24, 3d Edition.
Any unvaried monotonous process is unable to awaken
interest either in the examinant or by-stander, and there-
fore, even the best exposition of the Catechism, if it be
always drawn from the mouths of the children in the same
order of question and answer, would become so cold in its
style, and stiff in its application, as to excite the same dis-
relish as the Catechism itself, when taught by rote only.
It is the lesson-like character of the mode, when adopted
in literal obedience to the Rubric, and the dull task-work,
which the querist, the respondent, and the congregation
feel in an equal degree, which have rendered, and will
continue to render, the old method uninviting, and there-
Seeing then, that the verbal construction of the Injunc-
tions, Canons, and Rubrics, have had some tendency to
defeat the object proposed by them, in that they have pre-
scribed times and seasons, and induced a neglect, or cold
performance of duty, on the part of those who give them-
selves no trouble to enquire into the nature and duty of
catechising, is the system to be abandoned altogether?
Not so, but it becomes a question, whether it may not be
improved, and whether a spirit of emulation may not be
stirred up by other and higher motives than a legislative
enactment. The letter of the law being dead, or considered
so, by those who forget their subscriptions and declarations
of conformity, is there not some ever living spirit of the
rule by which we may be guided and governed ?
Your Lordship has not overlooked this. You have re-
minded us, that we are to consult the tenor of the Liturgy
and services of the Church, and there we shall find how
solemnly the attention of the pastor and his people is
drawn to the demands of their mutual relation as shepherd
and fold, and to the conduct of both parties in the per-
formance of their respective duties. " Whether we look
to the dedication of the infant to God by the ministry of
the priest, to the profession of faith and obedience which
is made in his presence by the sponsors, or to the exhortation
which designates their duties, and specifies the instruction
to be given to the child, we discern the pervading intention
of placing the rising generation in the view of the minister,
of giving them in the tenderest infancy the advantage of
his paternal protection, and sending them to the Church,
to be publicly instructed by him in faith and morals."*
MOTIVES DEKIVED FROM THE BAPTISMAL SERVICE.
In the baptismal service, the very first supplication
which the priest addresses to the throne of Grace, publicly
before the congregation, - )* is that " the child may be re-
ceived into the ark of Christ's Church." The next peti-
tion is, that the infant " being steadfast in faith, joy ful through
hope, and rooted in charity, may so pass the waves of this
troublesome world, that finally he may come to the land
* Charge of 1822, p. 21, 3d Edition.
j- The Rubric directs that baptism should be administered upon
Sundays and other holy days, " When the most number of people
come together" for the express purpose that " every man present
may be put in remembrance of his own profession made to God."
It adds " in his baptism," but can the reflecting priest forget that hie
professions, made when he was consecrated to God, as the minister
of God's word, demand something of him also, viz. that he shall
" teach, premonish, feed, and provide for the Lord's family."
of everlasting life." What clergyman is so dull, or so
fanatical, who would not shrink indignantly from the re-
proach, if he were asked, Do you presume, then, that the
prayers of the Church, without any of the efforts of the
Church, through its ministers, are to go on accomplishing
this blessed effect 1 When the child arrives at years of
understanding, if he shall live to a period of temptation,
will he pass safely through the waves of this troublesome
world, without any helping hand, without any spiritual
guide to direct him ?
Were the infant left here, it would be the veriest mock-
ery, and therefore the service proceeds to speak of the
rebuke which the disciples received from our Lord, when
they would have kept little children from him, and to re-
mind us, by implication, that we are to receive them, not
only to formularies, but to instruction ; not only at the
baptismal font, but at the chair of the catechist — to acquaint
them with the nature, as well as with the words of Bap-
How is the child, who " is dedicated to God by our
office and ministry," to " remain in the number of God's
faithful and elect children through Jesus Christ," should
length of days be extended to him, unless he be brought
to a vital knowledge of Jesus Christ, through our office
and ministry ? It is mere lip-service "to give thanks unto
Almighty God, and to make our prayers unto him, that
this child may lead the rest of his life according to this
beginning," unless we ourselves, to the utmost of our
abilities, obey the further injunctions of the Church, and
explain to him, what it is, " to confess the faith of Christ
crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner, against
sin, the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ's
faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end." Again,
how can we seriously proceed to exhort godfathers and
godmothers to " remember that it is their parts and duties
to see that the infant be taught what a solemn vow, prom-
ise and profession he hath made, and to provide that he
may learn the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and Ten Com-
mandments in the vulgar tongue, and all the things which
a Christian ought to know to his soul's health," unless we
ourselves are prepared to be at our posts, when the time
shall come and to teach them to understand the samel
Who can conceive that the same Church, which propounds
the form and" ministration of public baptism," and the form
of" Catechism to be learnt of every person, &c." has greater
claims upon the sponsors who are to see that infants be
taught, than upon the ministers whose duty it is to explain
the lesson in question ?
MOTIVES DERIVED FROM THE ORDINATION SERVICE.
But a more sacred appeal yet remains, and it can be
shown, that what a sponsor undertakes for his god-child,
the parochial minister undertakes for " all such as are, or
shall be committed to his charge," within the extent of a
possible quantity of duty — that is, as far as it is practicable.
Yes, there is a solemn account which every Parish Priest
has to render, in conformity with his Ordination vow, infi-
nitely beyond all the obligation which Acts of Parliament,
Constitutions, or Canons, can impose. He may evade the
letter of these, and may persuade himself that he has cate-
chised, and taught and initiated, according to Rubrick or
Canon, if during certain seasons of the year, he have gath-
ered together the school children, or others of his parish,
about the rails of the altar, or reading-desk, and questioned
them as to their proficiency in saying by heart the form of
the Church catechism. But a reference to the Ordination
Service will lead to a bitter reprehension of himself, should
he not have carried his instructions to a much greater ex-
tent, and questioned personally as many young people as
he could induce to answer, concerning " the reason of the
hope wheh is in them."
I conceive, therefore, that your Lordship, in common
with the other Prelates of the realm, would be able to ad-
monish and reprove a negligent catechist with irresistible
authority, by censures resting solely on the solemn en-
gagements made by Deacons and Priests under the impo-
sition of hands, and the awful sponsion at the altar. " The
questions," says Burnet, " are put in the name of God and
of his Church, which make the answers to them to be of
the nature of vows and oaths, so that if men do make con-
science of any thing, and if it is possible to strike terror in-
to them, the forms of our Ordination are the most effec-
tually contrived for that end that could have been framed."*
" It appertained to the office of a Deacon — to instruct
the youth in the catechism. — Will you do this gladly and
willingly?' 1 '' demands the Bishop.
" I will do so by the help of God!" is the answer.
That the Deacon may understand that it is no hasty and
formal compliance with this and other duties of his profes-
sion, which is required, but an essential performance of
them, he is further asked, —
* Pastoral Care.
M Will you apply all your diligence to frame and fashion
your own life, and the lives of your families, according to
the doctrine of Christ : and to make both yourselves and
them, as much as in you lieth, wholesome examples of the
flock of Christ 1 "
" I will do so, the Lord being my helper."
In the Ordination of Priests, the duty of pastoral and cate-
chetical instruction, as independent of that of public preach-
ing, and in addition to it, is so distinctly marked, and se-
riously denned, that none could evade it, without the help
of a supposed obedience to the letter of the Canons and
" And now again we exhort you, in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, that you have in remembrance into how
high a dignity, and to how weighty an office and charge,
ye are called : that is to say, to be messengers, watchmen,
and stewards, of the Lord ; to teach, to premonish, to feed
and provide for the Lord's family, and to seek/or Christ's
sheep that are scattered abroad, and for his children who
are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be
saved through Christ for ever. If it shall happen that any
member thereof take any hurt or hindrance, by reason of
your negligence, ye know the greatness of the fault, and
also the horrible punishment that will ensue. Wherefore
consider, within yourselves, the end of your ministry to-
wards the children of God, towards the spouse, and body
of Christ ; and see that you never cease your labour, your
care and diligence, until you have done all that lieth in
you, according to your bounden duty, to bring all such as
are, or shall be, committed to your charge, unto that agree-
ment in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripe-
ness and perfectness of age in Christ, that there be no place
left among you, either for error in religion, or for vicious-
ness in life," &c.
After this exhortation follow these questions ; —
" Are you determined out of the said Scriptures to in-
struct the people committed to your charge" <$pc?
Answer — " I am so determined by God's grace."
" Will you then give your faithful diligence, so that you
may teach the people committed to your care and charge,
to keep and observe (he same ?"
Answer. — "I will do so by the help of God."
" Will you be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish
and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines, con-
trary to God's word : and to use both public and private
monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick, as to the
whole, within your cure, as need shall require, and occa-
sion shall be given ?"
Answei — " 1 will, the Lord being my helper."
Such are the duties of Catechising and of pastoral in-
struction, according to the ordination engagements. The
Ordination Service defines them ; and the bishop who or-
dains, imperatively exacts them, as an obligation binding
on the souls of priests and deacons, not only according to
the letter, but to the spirit, and the full meaning of the
words in which it is conveyed. It is a stipulation entered
upon at the altar : it is a covenant ratified before God,
and in the presence of the congregation, that the person
who is admitted into Holy Orders, " shall never cease his
labour, care, or diligence, till he hath done all that lieth
in him, both by public and private monitions and exhorta-
tions to bring those committed to his charge to the ripe-
ness and perfectness of Christ.''''
« My advice," said Bishop Burnet in his Discourse on
the Pastoral Care, " is, that those who are already in Or-
ders, will at least four times a year, on the Ordination Sun-
days, read over the offices of the degree of the Church in
which they are ; and will particularly consider the charge
that was given, and the answers that were made by them :
and then ask themselves as before God, who will judge
them at the great day, upon their religious performance of
them, whether they had been true to them or not."
A MISTAKEN IDEA, THAT THE NECESSITY OF CATECHISING
IS SUPERSEDED BY THE NATIONAL SCHOOL SYSTEM.*
Your Lordship has expressed yourself unwilling to im-
pute the discontinuance of catechising to the " indolence
of the parochial Clergy." Indolence is not. I would hope,
the fault of the Clergy of the day ; and if there be any
disinclination to exercise the functions of catechists, it is
more likely to arise from an erroneous persuasion, that
their other labours have been such as to render it unneces-
sary, than from any unwillingness to encounter personal
trouble. There is scarcely a parish, in your Lordship's
diocese at least, where a school of some description, Sun-
day or weekly, has not been instituted, under the superin-
tendence of the parochial minister, for the religious im-
provement of the children of the poor. To the internal
management of such establishments the Clergyman devotes
much of his time and attention : he is present at examina-
[ • Has there not been among us the same mistaken reliance on
the Sunday Sch ool system ? — Am. Ed.]
tions, — he provides that scriptural lessons shall form the
principal subjects of instruction ; and all being under his
immediate care, he believes that he does enough, and
obeys the Rubric and the Canon, while he thus " causes
the children, who have not learnt the Catechism, to come
to hear and be ordered, till they have learned the same."
I am confident there is so much good intention in these and
other labours of the generality of my Clerical brethren,
that there are but few of them, who could not be soon
brought to admit, that in this superintendence of parish
schools, they are performing only half of their catecheti-
cal duties, and that they are falling very far short of the
good which they conscientiously propose to themselves.
Parents, and parishioners at large, in their own persons,
are not benefited by this substitution for the old practice ;
young persons of a higher degree, who are not in the habit
of receiving instruction in parochial schools, — servants,
apprentices, — and all, at that dangerous crisis, between
childhood and maturity, lose the advantage of those prac-
tical and familiar illustrations of divine truth, which the
interrogatory system affords, when it is transferred from
the Church to the school-room. Catechising should al-
ways be a congregational service ; for well-ordered ques-
tions draw out the attention, and quicken the apprehension,
not only of those who have to make a reply, but of those
who are mere listeners, and take no further part in the
But this is not the only reason why the institution of
parish schools should not be permitted to dispense with the
[•Experience affords abundant demonstration of the truth of
this statement. — Jm. Ed.]
primitive custom. The more general that education be-
comes, the more imperative is the duty of the parochial
minister to ascertain its effects upon the minds of his young
flock, beyond the period of their probation as eleemosy-
nary scholars. If he have laid the foundation, he should
carry up the building, or, at least, he should make him-
self acquainted with the scriptural soundness of the super-
structure. As he has been instrumental in giving his
youthful parishioners new powers of acquiring good and
evil, — he should continue to direct their application. He
should provide wholesome food for the craving appetite
which he has excited ; and by examination in the face of
the congregation, should prove that he is not indifferent to
the spiritual wants and interests of ripening years.
As long as Sunday, parish, and national schools are
used as helps to the parochial clergy, and the services of
the schoolmasters therein engaged, are employed to pre-
pare children for their appointed catechist, the incumbent
or his curate, and to relieve him from the toilsome work
of primary instruction, they will continue to be beneficial
in no ordinary degree. But whenever they shall be re-
garded as sufficient for all the purposes of elementary
training in religious knowledge, — and the ordained guide
to Christian truth shall think himself justified in deputing
his catechetical duties to an incompetent lay-assistant, and
in breaking the tie of connexion between himself and his
flock, effects will follow, which may, in the end, direct the
engine of national education against the hand that first
* " Do the times then no longer require it V asks Archdeacon
Bay ley, in his eloquent and animated Charge; "far other is the
ERRONEOUS ESTIMATE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF CATECHI-
A late Prelate, Bishop Edmund Law, who published, in
the last century, an excellent " Dissertation on the nature
and necessity of Catechising," attributed the discontinuance
of the service to two causes : First, a low estimate of its
importance on the part of some ; and, secondly, a sense
of its difficulties on the part of others. " At present this
is a work which many, either discouraged by disuse, and
the despicable notions which are apt to be entertained of
it, or deterred by its difficulty, are extremely shy of under-
taking. Some have not the desire, some not the resolution
to set about it !"
case. Much of that ignorant impatience of discipline, that ever
learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,
that heartless indifference, which usurps the name of liberality, and
that licentiousness of self-will, which marks the latter days, as it
disgraced the worst period, perhaps, of our annals ; much of all
this, as well as of viciousness of life and error in religion, is owing
to ' ungroundedness in the points of Catechism.' Equally fallacious
is the notion, that Sunday Schools, and more especially the national
system, preclude its use, or remove the minister's responsibility.
No ; but one of the great objects, one of the prime merits of both,
is to train and prepare the rising generation for the hands of the
Clergyman, to facilitate thereby his labour, and to make the neces-
sity of public exhibition less frequent. But still his constant super-
visal and personal direction of the whole machinery are equally, or
more than ever demanded — they are, I had nearly said, all in all.
Through him, moreover, the children are to profess, in Church,
what they have been taught in the school, and he is bound not
merely to listen to a formal and cold repetition, hut also in the fullest
sense of the term, to 'examine, and to instruct.' "
With respect to the first cause assigned, I can easily
understand that the younger clergy may learn to entertain
a contemptible opinion of that which their elders and su-
periors refuse to practise.
Where it is the custom to commit the sacred charge as
a work of drudgery, to lay persons, whose habits, condi-
tion, and attainments, are unequal to it, — there it may be
concluded, that inexperienced and unreflecting Clergymen
will be indisposed to enter upon a work, which has been
rendered distasteful by neglect and abuse. But will the
Church of England ever sink so low, as that the great body
of her ministers shall openly hold in contempt a practice,
which has been sanctified by the example of Evangelists
and Apostles, and of men eminent for their rank in the
Church, for their piety and attainments, from the first
preaching of the Gospel to the present hour? To devote
public and private attention to the young, and the ignorant,
and the dull, — to explain to these the first principles of
Christianity, by a slow and wearisome process, — to ques-
tion, and to consent to be questioned in the face of the con-
gregation, — to have recourse to one expedient after another,
for the purpose of touching the heart, or stirring up the
conscience, or enlightening the understanding, — to aim
every discourse at the same mark, — to adapt the system
to different tempers and capacities, — and never to consider
the work done, until every term used is thoroughly under-
stood, — every vow and promise distinctly explained, and
every condition of the covenant made plain, — this may be
laborious, and trying, and oftentimes disheartening, but it
never can be pronounced inconsistent with the dignity of
the most elevated station.
CATECHISING PRACTISED BY THE AFOSTLES AND THEIR
I have said that the Apostles and Evangelists themselves
did not disdain that patient, simple, and interrogatory mode
of instruction, which is called catechising.* Added to the
concurrent voice of antiquity f to this effect, we have the
more unquestionable evidence of Scripture, gathered from
the application of the Greek word, from whence the term
now in use is derived.
Fortified with this etymological argument, it was the
opinion of Cave and Grotius,| that St. Peter alluded to the
* It was principally by catechising, that the religion of Jesus, as
Hegesippus observes, was in a few years spread over the greater
part of the known world. — Bishop Mant.
By catechising, under heaven, was planted the Apostolical Church ;
by catechising, the sound of the Gospel was sent forth into all lands.
St. Paul's converts had all been instructed in the faith, as the cus-
tom was catechetically. — Rev. J. B. Sumner.
\ The author of the Epistle called "Clementis ad Jacobura Epis-
tola," (who, at all events, expressed the traditionary belief of tha
early Church, at whatever period he himself may have lived,) pro-
fesses to give an account of St. Peter's last charge, in which the
Apostle is made to speak of himself, as having catechised at Rome.
" They who catechise, should be well rooted in the faith, for the sal-
vation of men's souls is at stake. Wherefore it is important that he
who administers, and teaches, shall accommodate himself to the
various opinions and dispositions of such as he may have to teach.
It is indispensable that a catechist be learned, blameless, practised
and perspicuous in his mode of instruction. Such as you will find
Clement to be, who, when I am gone, will succeed me." — Clem, ad
Jac. Epist. apud Cot. Pat. p. 619.
i Bingham's Orig. Sacr. B. xi. ch. 7. 5. 3.
catechetical system, when he spoke of the " answer of a
good conscience towards God :" and it has been thought
still more probable, that Philip's conversation with the
eunuch, before he baptized him, had some reference to the
Apostolical practice of teaching by question and answer.
Cyril distinctly relates, in terms, that St. Paul catechised.
"Paul," says he, "preached the Gospel from Jerusalem
to Illyria, and taught at Rome catechetically"* [xatrfitf-
] Cyril, Catechesis, xvii. 16.
This statement receives strong confirmation from the
two last verses of Acts xxviii. " And Paul dwelt two
whole years in his own hired house, [at Rome,] and re-
ceived all that came unto him, preaching the kingdom of
God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord
Jesus Christ." There is manifestly meant to be, in this
passage, an account of two modes which the Apostle adop-
* St. Paul's general style affords evidence to this effect. From
the 2d chapter to the end of the 12th chapter of his Epistle to the
Romans, there appears a manner of putting his subject, which is pe-
culiarly characteristic of the Apostle, who, according to Cyril, cate-
chised at Rome. For example —
Q. What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there
of circumcision? Rom. iii. 1.
A. Much every way — chiefly, because that unto them were com-
mitted the oracles of God. V. 2.
Q. For what if some did not believe ! shall their unbelief make
the faith of God without effect ? V. 3.
A. God forbid. Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar, as it
is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and migh-
test overcome when thou art judged. V. 4.
Q. What, then, are we better than they ? V. 9.
A. No, in no wise, for we have before proved both Jews and Gen-
tiles, that they are all under sin. V. 9. &c. &c.
ted of promulgating the faith. Comparing it with Acts v.
42, — " they ceased not to teach, and preach Jesus Christ,"
— with Acts xv. 35, — " Paul and Barnabas continued in
Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord,"
— and with 1 Tim. i. 11, " VVhereunto I am appointed a
preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher" — and finding
that the term itself, Catechise,* is used three times by
St. Paul himself, and four times by St. Luke,| the sacred
historian of St. Paul, — I can have no doubt that the cate-
chetical form of teaching was adopted by the Apostles as
the most efficient, though the most humble and fatiguing
method, of explaining the first principles of the Gospel.
St. Paul's charge to Timothy was, that he should be " apt
to teach," [SiSaxt txox] (twice this expression was repeated,)
" in meekness instructing "% [itaibtvovea^
THE ATTENTION PAID TO IT BY THE EARLY CHURCH.
In conformity with this precept, the highest officers in
the primitive Church, and the most distinguished of her or-
naments, exercised the functions of Catechists, with a spi-
rit that took delight in teaching even the first elements, —
with gentleness that could not be moved by the perverse-
ness of their catechumens, and with patience which was
proof against all fatigue or disgust.
* See the Introduction.
f Luke i. 4. Acts xviii. 25. xxi. 21, 24. Rom. ii. 18. 1 Cor.
xiv. 19. Gal. vi. 6.
% 1 Tim. ii. 2. 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25.
" The chair of the catechist of old was filled by the
highest authorities, the finest talents, and the deepest learn-
ing,"* and among the number of those whom I would
bring to the recollection of such as undervalue the humble
task of interrogatory instruction, was Pantasnus.f His
taste in elegant and classic literature was so refined, that
he was called the "Sicilian bee" by his contemporaries;
and there is an incident in his life, which, connected with
his literary acquirements, may induce not a few to take
more than common interest in his history. Like our own la-
mented Heber, he made a sacrifice of his dearest interests,
and went a voluntary Missionary to India. Though Alex-
andria, the place of his abode, contained all that could gratify
a mind ardent in the pursuit of science and letters, yet he
cheerfully regarded an invitation by some Indian Ambas-
sadors, as a call of Providence, and journeyed to regions
beyond the Indus, with that singleness of purpose, which
proved his heart to be with the Author and Finisher of his
faith, and chose a rugged path which nothing could smooth,
but the strongest sense of Christian duty.
Clemens Alexandrinus, Heraclias, afterwards Bishop of
Alexandria, and Origen, were Catechists ; and the latter
was so eminently successful in proceeding upon the golden
rule, line upon line, and precept upon precept, that he not
only achieved conversions among the more ignorant and
uninformed, but among accomplished scholars.^ Heathen
philosophers, and Christians by outward profession, who
had departed from the purer doctrines of the Gospel, were
brought to the obedience of the Cross, by listening acciden-
• Archdeacon Bayley. f KaTo^a-eat irfswr* iVarasAusi/. Euseb.
t Euseb. vi. 18.
tally to the close questions which he put to his catechu-
mens, and to the truth which he illustrated through their
answers. This is one of the important advantages result-
ing from public catechising. The instructor reaches the
hearts and consciences of by-standers, through queries and
observations meant for young neophytes. The simplicity
of the Gospel thus triumphs unexpectedly over the wisdom
of the wise ; and praise is perfected out of the mouths of
babes and sucklings, for " God hath chosen the foolish
things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak
things of the world to confound the things which arc mighty,
and base things of the world, and things that are despised
hath God chosen, yea, and things, which are not, to bring
to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in his
It will be enough to mention two other names, selected
from the Fathers, of men, renowned in their generation,
who thought it no condescension to labour in futherance
of that sacred ordinance, which your Lordship has taken
such pains to press upon the attention of your Clergy.
Cyril of Jerusalem, and Augustine of Hippo, are no mean
names in the annals of the Church. The first has left
behind him proofs in his " Catechesis," that a catechist's
duties are not the least important among the pastoral
functions. The second assisted the labours of a young
deacon by a treatise on Catechising, which none can read
without feeling all the best energies of his nature invited
to exercise themselves in the same department of the Lord's
THE OPINIONS OF THE EARLY REFORMERS, AND OTHER
As nothing extended the doctrines of the primitive Church
more than diligent Catechising, so has the enlargement of
the Protestant faith been effected by the same means.
From the earliest dawn of the Reformation, there has never
been a time, when its zealous advocates have entirely neg-
lected it. The sixteenth century produced a host of cate-
chists and catechisms. Luther wrote two, and declared
that catechising afforded him more delight than any other
duty.* I have already noticed what was done in England,
to promote this service, in the infancy of the Established
Church; and however lax at different periods may have
been the conduct of too great a portion of the Clergy of
the land, yet the sentiments and the practice of our more
distinguished divines have always been in this respect strict-
" There is no employment in the world," says Bishop
Hall, " wherein God's ministers can so profitably employ
themselves, as in this of plain and familiar catechising.
What is a building without a foundation? If this ground-
work therefore be not surely laid, all their divine discourses
(for such their sermons are) lie upon the loose sand, and
are easily washed away by the insinuative suggestions of
false teachers. As for matter of belief, where the founda-
tion is surely laid of the doctrines of faith, contained in the
Apostolic, Nicene, Atkanasian Creeds ; and of the doc-
trine of the Sacraments, briefly comprised in our publicly
allowed catechism ; I see no reason but to think our peo-
* See Mant's Notes on the Catechism.
pie so sufficiently defenced against the danger of error, that
no heretical machinations could be able to batter or under-
mine them. And surely, if ever there were or can be a
time, wherein this duty of catechising were fit to be en-
forced, it is this upon which we are fallen, when the souls
of Christian people are so hard laid at, not only by Papery,
Anabaptism, Antinomianism, Pelagianism ; but by the
confounding and hellish heresies of Socinianism, Antitrini-
tarianism, prodigious mischiefs ; tending not only to the
disturbance of our peace, but to the utter destruction of
Christianity." — From the Peace Maker. — Sec. 23.
» There is no one thing of which I repent so much,"
said the same prelate, " as not to have bestowed more hours
in this public exercise of catechising ; in regard whereof
I could quarrel with my very sermons, and wish that a
great part of them had been exchanged for this preaching
" Great scholars," said the celebrated Usher, in a Ser-
mon preached before king James the First, " possibly may
think, that it stands not so well with their credit to stoop
thus low, and to spend so much of their time in teaching
these rudiments and first principles of the doctrine of Christ.
But they should consider, that the laying the foundation
skilfully, as it is the matter of greatest importance in the
whole building, so it is the very masterpiece of the wisest
builder. According to the grace of God which is given
unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the founda-
tion ; saith the great Apostle, 1 Cor. iii. 10. And let the
learnedest of all try it whenever we please, we shall find,
that to lay the ground-work rightly (that is, to apply our-
selves unto the capacity of the common auditory, and to
make an ignorant man understand these mysteries in some
good measure) will put us to the trial of our skill, and
trouble us a great deal more, than if we were to discuss a
controversy, or handle a subtle point of learning in the
There is every reason to believe, that Herbert's charac-
ter of "the Country Parson" was drawn from real life.
His biographer, Isaac Walton, relates, that his own con-
duct was a practical comment upon the rules which he
laid down in that delightful treatise. " In his first sermon
to his parishioners, he made it his humble request, that
they would be constant to the afternoon's service and cate-
chising, and showed them convincing reasons why he de-
sired it ; and his obliging example and persuasions, brought
them to a conformity to his desires." With this evidence
before us, we may conclude that his twenty-first chapter,
entitled, " the Parson Catechising," is an exact description
of the manner in which the most able and pious Clergy of
that period, were in the habit of performing this duty.
"The country parson values catechising highly, — he
useth and prefcrreth the ordinary Church Catechism, partly
for obedience to authority, partly for uniformity sake, that
the same common truths may be every where professed,
especially since many remove from parish to parish, who
like Christian soldiers, are to give the word, and to satisfy
the congregation by their Catholic answers. He exacts of
all the doctrines of the Catechism : of the younger sort the
very words : of the elder, the substance. Those he cate-
cKiseth publicly ; these privately, giving age honour, ac-
cording to the apostle's rules. He requires all to be pre-
sent at catechising : first for the authority of the work,
secondly, that parents and masters, as they hear the an-
swers prove, may, when they come home, either commend
or reprove, either reward or punish : thirdly, that those of
the elder sort, who are nofwell grounded, may then by an
honourable way, take occasion to be better instructed ;
fourthly, that those who are well grown in the knowledge
of religion, may examine their grounds, review their er-
rors, and by occasion of both enlarge their meditations.
When once all have learnt the words of the Catechism, he
thinks it the most useful way that a pastor can take, to go
oyer the same, but in other words. How many say the
catechism by rote, as parrots, without ever piercing into
the sense of it. In this course the order of the catechism
would be kept, but the rest varied, as thus : In the Creed,
— How came this world to be as it is? Was it made, or
came it by chance? Who made it? Did you see God
make it? Then there are some things to be believed
that are not seen? Is this the nature of belief? Is not
Christianity full of such things as are not to be seen, but
believed ? You said God made the world ; Who is God ?
and so forward, requiring answers to all these, and helping
and cherishing the answerer, by making the questions very
plain by comparisons, and making much even of a word
of truth from him."
Baxter, though a non-conformist, attributed much of his
success at Kidderminster to his adherence to catechising,
as a regular system. " When I set upon a personal con-
ference with each family," said he, " and catechising them,
there were very few families in all the town, that refused
Bishop Burnet catechised three times a week, while he
was the incumbent of Saltown in Scotland, and even after
his consecration to the see of Salisbury, he examined the
youth of the two great schools of the town in the cathedral
Church, every week during the season of Lent. To enu-
merate all the great names, Wake, Seeker, &c.,who have
dedicated their labours to the same cause, would be to ad-
duce a « cloud of witnesses " to its expediency.
THE SUPPOSED DIFFICULTIES OF CATECHISING.
Another cause, which the late Bishop Law, thought
might have its effect in contributing to the neglect of cate-
chising, is one, which in the present age cannot be fairly
admitted. " Some deterred by its difficulties have not the
resolution." There are so many helps in the shape of ex-
positions and illustrations of the Catechism, and the parish
minister is, in most places, so accustomed to address young
persons, in the common examinations, during his superin-
tendence of National or Sunday Schools, that it would be
a reproach to the Clergy, to allow any weight whatever
to such a plea. Timidity and hesitation there naturally
will be on the part of many, whose duty calls them to stand
forth in the face of a congregation, and to deliver such un-
premeditated observations, as the nature of a child's answer
may require : but very little practice, and a heart fairly
enlisted in the service, will soon give both confidence to the
mind, and utterance to the tongue. We are not to sup-
pose that an audience, collected together to hear youth and
ignorance instructed in the elements of Christianity, are
nice and critical. If the tone and manner of the teacher,
and the pains which he takes to make himself understood,
render it manifest that he is thoroughly in earnest, any lit-
tle particular deficiencies will be overlooked, and the gene-
ral effect only will be noticed. A broken discourse, and
remarks arising out of circumstances, and replies which
occur at the moment, are not so likely to weary hearers,
as a continued lecture ; and for this reason a diffident Cler-
gyman may enter upon his catechetical work with much
less apprehension of being tiresome, than when he has to
deliver a sermon. He cannot express himself too plainly ;
he has no occasion whatever to study language or style.
As long as he is unaffected, audible, and intelligible, he is
sure to interest his listeners,* who will not be dissatisfied
even with that which is familiar and common place, be-
cause they are aware, that the instructor has to address
himself principally to those, who require first principles,
and come for milk, and not for strong meat.
My Lord, it is a remark, which has lately been put forth
in print, in more than one form of publication, " that reli-
gious knowledge is more eagerly sought for, and more
generally diffused," — that " Religion has a much stronger
hold on the affections of the English nation now," than in
preceding times, — that we live in an age, when many jeal-
ous and observant eyes are upon us, — that much is expected
of us, — and that to the ordinary obligations, religious and
civil, which the ministers of our Church have always been
expected to observe, are superadded, the obligations arising
from the increased and increasing force of public opinion.
Such being the admitted fact, it would seem that any
parochial Clergyman, who should undertake to restore the
system of catechising, according to the plan which your
Lordship has suggested, namely "by improving the prac-
tice by such modifications as would render it popular as
well as useful," would have all the encouragement that a
[• « Expcrto creJc Roberto" — trust and try. — Am. Ed.]
grateful flock could give him, in full attendance both of
young and old, high and low, rich and poor, one with
another, in manifestation of awakened hopes and fears, and
in general improvement throughout the parish. There
would be no unwillingness either in parent or child, master
or apprentice, to wait upon the teaching of a Clergyman,
whose kind and affectionate earnestness in the cause, and
efficient mode of explanation, should offer some pledge, that
they would be the happier and better for it. To insure
success to his experiment, he has only to treat his Cate-
chumens as thinking and reflecting beings, and not as mere
mechanical creatures, who are assembled around him to
repeat for the hundredth time, what they have repeated
ninety-nine times before. Children as well as grown per-
sons, may be made to understand, that they have a per-
sonal interest in the Christian covenant : and as the preach-
er's first care should be to rouse each of his hearers to a
sense of his own individual concern in that which is ad-
dressed to him, so should the Catechist's be, to lead his
young charge to employ their thoughts about themselves,
to tempt them to think, and to prevail on them to exercise
their minds upon that which they have been reading or
learning. Who shall limit the period of life, when a desire
to obey the Gospel may become the active principle of the
soul ? The highest authority has spoken of childhood as
an age of docility. God has implanted even in infancy
a natural curiosity about himself and the things of eternity:
and we are encouraged by the brightest promises of suc-
cess to try the experiment, which the Church invites and
commands us to make.*
[ * This whole paragraph deserves the serious consideration of the
Clergy.— Jm. Ed.]
PRACTICAL ADOPTION OF THE PROPOSED SYSTEM.
The consecration of the new Church, in Somer's Town,
St. Pancras, to which 1 was appointed Minister in May,
1826, afforded me an ample opportunity of making the ex-
periment of public catechising upon the scale, and with the
modifications, which your Lordship's Charge had recom-
mended. The scene of duty presented a view of all the
disadvantages, and all the advantages, under which a pa-
rochial Clergyman may be supposed to be placed. If there
was much to encounter, there was a wide field for useful
exertion. Somer's Town forms one of the districts of a
very extensive and populous parish, which is said to be
seventeen miles in circuit, and to contain not less than
eighty thousand souls. The population of St. Pancras has
been increasing rapidly during the last forty years ; and,
until very lately, its provision for the due performance of
Church Services was of the most limited kind. The small
and ancient mother-Church will not accommodate a con-
gregation of three hundred. The new parochial chapel,
in Kentish Town, is situated at a great distance from the
body of the population. Yet such were the conflicting
opinions, that tended to dissever the people more and more
from their constituted pastor, that the exemplary and inde-
fatigable Dr. Middleton, late Bishop of Calcutta, was un-
able to realize the hope that lay nearest to his heart, and
to accomplish the construction of a new edifice, capable of
holding a congregation in any degree proportionable to the
magnitude of the parish. His successor, Dr. Moore, has
been more fortunate, and his incumbency has been distin-
guished not only by the completion of one of the finest and
largest parish Churches in London, but by the erection of
three additional Churches, or parochial chapels, capable
of receiving from fifteen hundred to two thousand persons
each ; viz. one at Camden Town, another in Regent Square,
and a third in Somer's Town. The influence, the activity,
and the zeal, which have enabled the present Vicar to
achieve so much for the interests of the Church, and for
the spiritual welfare of his parishioners, are such as entitle
him to the highest consideration.
This brief sketch, of the state of the parish of St. Pan-
eras, will sufficiently explain that a newly-appointed min-
ister, to either of these Churches, might have some reason
to fear, that he was not entering upon an easy cure, where
he would find all things made smooth for his career. Such
was found to be the case at the opening of the new Church
in Somer's Town ; and the statement, that I am now ma-
king, is necessary to a proper understanding of the course
which I was impelled to adopt. A thin congregation,
which became much more thin in the afternoon, and free
seats not half occupied, constituted no bright prospect.
Even those few sheep in the wilderness did not belong to
one fold, — the scanty flock was made up of many who
came out of curiosity, or from a distance, or with very un-
settled notions of unity. It was evidently not entirely com-
posed of persons in regular communion with the Establish-
The want of school-children to assist in the singing, and
responses, was another evil, of no small weight in the scale.
The children of the well-conducted St. Pancras National
School resorted in a body to the parish Church ; and there
were reasons, why even a small detachment could not con-
veniently be spared to assist at the services in Somer's
Upon casting about to ascertain the probable causes of
the many empty seats, which continued, for the first two
or three Sundays, to excite uneasiness, I discovered them
the condition and various denominations of the majority
BP the inhabitants of the district. There are several fami-
lies of great respectability in Somer's Town, and its vicinity,
and from these the Clergyman may look to receive every
attention; but for the most part the houses are of an infe-
rior description, occupied in separate floors and apartments,
by tenants who often shift their abode, and become unac-
customed to hold any regular communication with paro-
chial Clergy. Very many of these occupants are dissenters,
of all sects, and a large proportion of them are Roman
Catholics. During the war, Somer's Town was the resort
of French emigrants ; and it is now the receptacle of
Spanish and Italian refugees. There is no part of the
metropolis, where the Roman Catholics have more pros-
perous establishments than here. A chapel of old stand-
ing, and now undergoing considerable enlargement, — a
corps of zealous, able, and well-educated priests, who
leave no means untried to make proselytes,* and " two nu-
* At the same time that I put forth the following statements, I
distinctly disavow any intention of charging the Roman Catholic
Clergy of the neighbourhood of Somer's Town, with having had
any hand in the transactions alluded to. They may pass without
their agency : the only acts of theirs, which have come to my
knowledge, are in the fair course of professional zeal, and I heartily
wish that all our own priesthood would take equal pains to seek, as
well as to save. The spirit of avowed hostility is so busy at work in
Somer's Town, on the part of Roman Catholics, that there have been
circulated not less than eight thousand six hundred tracts within
this district during the past year, of which the greatest proportion is
calculated not so much to confirm the truth of their own tenets, as
merous schools of gratuitous education for the poor," to
quote their own report, — these form an effective phalanx
in the very centre of the position assigned to the district
minister. A large academy for Roman Catholic childre^
to turn ours into derision, and therefore evidently intended more for
the perusal of loose Protestants, than of professed Papists. Of an
inflammatory and ribald tract, in four pages, entitled, " Monkish
Superstition and Modern Improvements," more than nine hundred
have been distributed. This tract is headed by a wood-cut, repre-
senting men harnessed like horses, and compelled by an overseer,
armed with an enormous whip, to draw carts on the road. The
text, illustrative of the print, asserts, that " women as well as men
have been set to repair the roads in Sussex and Hampshire."
According to the statement of a printed schedule of distribution,
550 is the number circulated of " The modern method of converting
Idolators, by Bible Saints," adorned by a plate, in which Protestant
disputants are drawn in the act of assailing the Papists, sword and
bayonet in hand — 500 of " Protestant Inquisition," 400 of " Samples
of the Blessings of the Reformation," 150 of "Tolerance of the
Law Church." Another notable treatise, which has found its way
by hundreds into the district, is " a Review of Fox's Book of Mar-
tyrs :" this is decorated with a print, under which the publishers
have been at the trouble to give the following description — •' Expla-
nation of the engraving. John Fox is seen writing his hook, origi-
nally called Acts and Monuments, but now metamorphosed into a
Book of Martyrs. The devil is looking over his shoulder prompting
him, for under no other influence but that of an evil spirit could
he write, since he has been convicted of falsehood by father Parsons,
who charges him with telling directly and indirectly not less than
ten thousand lies in this work. In the perspective is a printing
press chained., to denote that it was shut to the Catholics by the
operation of the Penal Code, as will be seen in the course of the
present work." It is well that the Clergy of the metropolis should
know how busily Roman Catholic agents are employed in their par-
ishes. 72,000 of similar tracts were circulated in London last year.
whose parents can afford to pay for their education, ad-
joins the new parochial chapel.
Under such circumstances as these, it was manifest
that there could be no chance of making a ministry as
extensively useful as the place required, but by becoming
personally, and accessibly known, to as many as would
be willing to profit by such intercourse. But how was
this to be done? By whom could the introduction be made?
Unlike a country parish, the inhabitants of a London dis-
trict are unknown to each other; they hold but little com-
munication; they are not neighbours, to say to each other,
Have you conversed with the Clergyman? 1 will bring
him to you. From one end to another of the district it
was a land of strangers ; and the common mode of getting
at the well disposed, and at those in error, would have de-
manded an interval of several months, before any apparent
good could result. Preaching would not suffice, because
there were comparatively but few hearers, and those
few needed proofs of the Clergyman's devotion to the
sacred cause beyond his energy in the pulpit. An imme-
diate lever was wanted to move the feelings and affections
of the people. It was now that your Lordship's Charge
recurred to my mind in all its force.
" The Liturgical formularies of the Church, — conceived
on an accurate notion of the relation between the pastor
and his flock, are designed to connect them by a regular
intercourse, and to direct the conduct of both parties in the
performance of their respective duties. As the ground-
work OF THIS PLAN, IT IS HER PECULIAR OBJECT TO BRING
THE PARISHIONER, FROM HIS EARLIEST DAYS, INTO IMMEDI-
ATE CONTACT WITH HIS SPIRITUAL TEACHER AND GUIDE."
I saw that I must go back to first principles, — that I
must tread in the humble, and almost forsaken path of the
Catcchist, — that I must yield substantial obedience to a
rule, which, if duly observed, would help me to attain my
But fresh difficulties presented themselves ; how was I
to get at the children, when I was unknown to their parents,
and unable to find my way to houses, where the voice of a
Clergyman of the Church would be heard in preference to
that of any other? The National School of which I have
previously spoken, offered me none of the facilities which
The more I contemplated my position, the more plainly
did I perceive the necessity of making my way to notice
and esteem, by being the immediate origin of some method,
not yet in practice in this particular quarter; of opening a
fountain of elementary religious instruction, which had not
yet sprung up ; of training some children, who should be
exclusively indebted to myself for some advantages; of
forming a plan for which parents and families would have
reason to be grateful ; and who, beginning to love me for
the concern I had shown in behalf of their little ones,*
would at length be led to ask themselves, May not we too
become better by going to him for instruction ?
While I was in doubt as to the exact course to be pursued,
it came to my knowledge that the master of an extensive
Lancasterian school in Somer's Town, was a member of
the Church of England, and sincerely disposed to promote
my views. He had been one of the Catechists under the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts,
in North America, and came home with strong recommen-
[*The true secret, humanly speaking, of pastoral influence. —
dations to the National School Society. But not finding
employment so soon as his circumstances required, he ac-
cepted an offer which placed him at the head of this Lan-
casterian institution. The number of boys and girls in-
structed there, amounted at the time to more than five hun-
dred, of whom it was represented to me, that many, being
children of parents in communion with the Established
Church, might be persuaded to come to Church, and to
form a Sunday school. The master himself undertook to
bring such as should be willing to attend, and to devote his
Sundays to whatever mode of instruction I might choose
With these elements my system began, and on the first
Sunday after the arrangement, the master presented him-
self at the head of about seventy children, who were
gathered together near the altar, after the afternoon ser-
mon, and prepared by classification for future operations.
They were not then catechised, for scarcely one could say
any part of the Church Catechism. It was explained to
them, that their attendance would be required every Sun-
day morning, at nine o'clock, in the Church, that their
first business would be to learn the Catechism, and that
prayer books would be given, or sold at very reduced prices,
to such as should entitle themselves to the privilege by
regular application and proficiency. On the following
Sunday the number of voluntary scholars was increased,
and several of them had learned enough of their lesson to
undergo a respectable examination in the Chancel. The
wheels of the machine were now in motion ; but that they
might not drag heavily, I began at once by infusing a little
variety into the exercise, and instead of confining my en-
quiries to the Catechism, I put questions and made obser-
vations relating to the Morning and Evening Services,
which interested the children, and removed every appear-
ance of unpleasant task-work.
For some months the teacher of the Lancasterian school
continued to act as the very efficient master of this my
Sunday School ; but at the beginning of last year, he de-
clined the office, partly from a desire of having the one
only day in the week, which he could call his own, a day
of perfect leisure, and partly from some apprehension lest
he should excite disagreeable surmises in the minds of the
persons connected with the management of the weekly
school, his principal dependence. It is the regulation in
that school, that no particular form of religion should be
taught, and it is possible he had reason to fear, that some
suspicions might be entertained of his preparing the Church
of England boys for their Sunday examinations, by a pro-
cess carried on in the course of the week, during school
hours, inconsistent with the spirit of the Lancasterian sys-
tem. Be this as it may, the Committee of that establish-
ment, so far from manifesting any open jealousy, or from
throwing obstacles in the way of my Sunday School, do,
to this day, promote it, by continuing to pay a young
woman five pounds a year, for her services on the Sabbath,
in superintending the conduct of such of their female chil-
dren as attend Church during the hours of instruction and
of divine service. She is in no other way connected with
In a very short time, all the advantages which your
Lordship has predicted as being likely to result from " an
improved modification of the ancient and laudable practice
of catechising children in Church," displayed themselves
in the District committed to my charge. What these ad-
vantages were, I shall describe more fully in their proper
place. But I may now briefly state, that from the day I
commenced catechising, until the present time, it has been
regularly pursued every Sunday, without any omission,
either by myself, or by the assistant minister, Mr. Judkin,
or by both of us in conjunction, at the conclusion of the
afternoon sermon ; and that a full congregation, — an inter-
course opened, and established with a great part of the in-
habitants of the District, — and a Sunday School increased
from 77 to 280, and still increasing, are the results.
Now for the modifications suggested and adopted.
IN WHAT RESPECTS THE OLD PRACTICE MAY BE MODIFIED
Your Lordship did not speak of modifications and im-
provements in the ancient practice, without giving us some
further insight into your own ideas of a mode of catechising,
suitable to the habits and feelings of modern times.
I. " A short space before or after the Church Service,
devoted to the examination of the children."* And,
II. An "examination judiciously interspersed with short
explanations, which might be generally edifying to the con-
gregation, leaving these matters to the judgment of indi-
vidual Clergymen, and the suggestions of local circum-
These were the groundworks proposed in your Lord-
ship's Charges, as substitutions for the half-hour prescribed
* Charge of 1822, p. 27.
f Charge of 1822, p. 27.
by the rubric, after the second Lesson at Evening Prayer,
and for the dry custom of confining the ordinance to a re-
petition of question and answer, as set down in the Cate-
chism. Upon these I have acted.
I. THE TIME OF CATECHISING.
In regard to the first improvement ; I have preferred a
space immediately after the Evening Service, because there
can then be no interruption whatever to the congregation,
and the time employed may depend entirely upon circum-
stances, i. e. upon the nature of the examination, and upon
the interest which is taken in it. If the children and by-
standers show no symptoms of weariness, it may be length-
ened at pleasure; whereas a space before the Evening
Prayers must necessarily terminate, when the hour for
prayer shall arrive. Another consideration in favour of
this choice, is, the better chance of having more hearers to
derive benefit from the service. When the people observe
that there is something going on, and that one and another
stays behind, the inclination to remain becomes pretty gene-
ral, and the catechist has the satisfaction of finding that he
is surrounded by a numerous audience. I have found this
to be the case invariably ; a very large proportion of the
congregation, of the superior orders, of servants, of young
persons, and the parents of the children who are to be ex-
amined, remain in their places, or approach the chancel to
listen to the questions and answers.
Again, there can be no appearance of fastidious impa-
tience to dishearten the Clergyman, when he catechises
after the prayers and sermon,* because every person who
stops to hear him does so by choice, and can go away at
any moment he pleases. There is nothing indecorous,
either in not staying to witness the examination, or in
retiring from it before it is concluded ; so that the perfect
and unrestrained liberty, to go or to stop, renders it an
attendance entirely optional.
II. THE INTERSPERSED EXPLANATIONS, AND THE MIXED
CHARACTER OF THE PRACTICE.
As soon as I discovered that I had succeeded in divesting
the examination of all irksomeness f to the young persons
principally concerned, I began to draw more largely upon
their time and industry, by expressing a desire that in the
course of every week, and in addition to portions of the
Catechism, and expositions of it, they would learn by
heart, or at least read attentively, the Collect, the Lessons,
and the Gospel of the next Sunday, so as to be prepared
to answer questions relating to the sacred narrative, pre-
[ * It is on every account far better to substitute the catechetical
exercise for the Sermon. See page 25 of this volume. — Am. Ed.]
■f " Your instructions should be given mildly and cheerfully.
They should not be given with a magisterial air, or in the way of a
solemn lecture, where the hearer is kept, as it were, at a distance,
and not allowed to propose, or to answer questions. All angry or
threatening expressions are to be carefully avoided. When instruc-
tions are given with a dogmatical air, an austere aspect, and attended
with threats, children are discouraged from attempting to learn." —
" Religious Instruction of Children," by Rev. Sir J. Stonehouse.
ccpts, and doctrines therein contained. I have not made
a practice of fixing their attention upon the Epistles, con-
sidering them to be beyond the understanding of children,
nor have I selected the Lessons out of the Old Testament,
so often as those which are taken from the Gospels. In
short the latter, .with the Gospel of the day, have consti-
tuted our principal exercise ; and it has rarely happened,
that I have asked the children to commit any Scriptural
passage to memory, without having had the satisfaction of
finding many of them able to repeat it at our next meeting.
The willingness, the delight, the emulation, which is ex-
hibited Sunday after Sunday, is as affecting as it is encour-
aging ; and I am quite sure that the majority of the chil-
dren would be extremely grieved, if the system, after
being adopted, should be abandoned.
METHODS OF RENDERING CATECHISING ATTRACTIVE.
But how is the interest of the children so excited, and
how is their attention so engaged, in the first instance, that
they become willing learners ? Public praise, and rewards
given in the face of the congregation ; and the reverse, —
rebukes, mildly delivered, and expected privileges withheld,
have wonderful effect. I have made it a rule to give no
distinction to displays of talent, unless they be accompa-
nied by good behaviour. If a child answer ever so well,
he is not noticed, unless he has behaved well ; and none
are permitted to purchase Bibles, Testaments, or Prayer-
books, unless they can produce tickets of merit, and of
regular attendance. Almost every Sabbath the master of
the Sunday School puts into my hand books, which certain
of the children have qualified themselves to possess, partly
by tickets of merit, of an assigned pecuniary value, and
partly by purchase ; and these are delivered to them at the
end of the service, with a few words of commendation.
No less than twenty-nine Bibles, five Testaments, and one
hundred and twenty Prayer-books, have been earned by
the youthful aspirants, in this way, during the past year ;
and no doubt they set a high value upon them after being
But there are two other more effective modes yet, which
I know by experience tend greatly to secure the attention
of such as are capable of reflection. The first is to con-
vince them that we ourselves are in earnest, that we have
their interest at heart, — that it is entirely for their sakes
that we take the trouble of instructing them.* The second
is to make them feel in earnest about themselves, — to awa-
ken a serious inquisitiveness, about their own present and
eternal condition, and to show them, that what we have to
say on matters of religion concerns every one of them
The congregation is edified by these means quite as
much* as the juvenile circle which is more immediately
* " Let your children see that you take pleasure in instructing
them. A mild speech and cheerful countenance are perfectly con-
sistent with great seriousness of spirit, and with keeping up a proper
authority. Let them see that all your advice proceeds from love.
Let nothing rough and morose appear in your instructions; but show
all gentleness, which will give weight and influence to every thing
you say." — Sir J. Slonehouse 's Instructions.
[j-" You think that you are teaching the children," said a shrewd
observer, " and so you are ; but the congregation much more." —
addressed. The home-questions which are put to the chil-
dren, the by-standers, in their turn, apply to their own
hearts and consciences. For example ; a child has been
repeating the Collect for the fourth Sunday after Lent,
" Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for
our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished," &c. &c.
The question naturally arises, and may be addressed to
one of tender years, " Have you committed any evil deeds,
for which you deserve punishment ? " After a short pause,
the Catechist himself may proceed to give the answer ;
" Yes, unhappily, young as you are, you have broken
some of God's commandments. When you have irrever-
ently pronounced his holy name, — when you have acted
disobediently to your parents, — when you have wished for
that which does not belong to you, you have done what is
displeasing to Almighty God. Now you shall see how the
language of the Collect, which adds, < By the comfort of
thy grace may be relieved,' agrees with the Catechism,
where it directs you to pray for divine help. ' My good
child, know this, that thou art not able to do these things
of thyself, nor to walk in the commandments of God, and
to serve him, without his special grace.' "
I have often noticed with considerable pleasure, how the
attention of individuals, arrived at maturity, is riveted,
when they discover, that the lessons of their earliest asso-
ciation contain notes which now strike to their heart; and
which they feel would have responded there at a more ten-
der age, had they been skilfully touched. Whether a con-
gregation be listening to a preacher or a catechist, as long
as the topics of a discourse are directed to that, in which
all have the same personal concern, be they young or old,
the speaker is sure to have willing hearers, whose con-
sciences will not suffer their "taste to be fastidious." Eve-
ry excited hope or fear puts the mind on the alert — every
new perception and acquirement gives pleasure, — and the
by-stander and the catechumen are equally attentive as soon
as they discover that they can apply religious maxims to
their own case ; that they can draw from their own hearts
or conduct proofs of the truth of the doctrines that are de-
livered to them.
Nothing can be more erroneous, than to limit catecheti-
cal lessons to the mere heartless business of ascertaining
whether the formularies have been committed to memory,
under the idea, that childhood being the season for the me-
chanical process only, we must wait for riper years, be-
fore the word engrafted on the memory can be expected to
engage the heart and the understanding, in a salutary in-
quiry after truth. Why is memory to be considered the
only active power of the youthful mind'! Why is it to be
supposed that the child can retain forms of words, but not
impressions of hope, fear, love, desire, and longings after
a heavenly state of things? Why may he not be supposed
to feel and to digest, to compare, and to weigh eternity
against the present ?
An authority, [Bishop Wilson] whose opinion has been
permitted to carry great weight in all questions of this kind,
declared that he would neither suspend, nor retard the im-
portant work of instructing a rational and immortal being
in the concerns, that interest his soul : that he would make
the understanding travel on with the mechanical process of
learning by heart. He insisted that " children being the most
proper subjects of an education which regards another life,"
we should never cease to put people in mind, that the object of
religious education is to "make children Christians in deed
as well as in name.'''' His expressions are too strong to
allow us to mistake his meaning: he adds, "lesl not know-
ing or not feeling the power of religion in their souls,"
they become a scandal to their education. " My mean-
ing," says he, " is this ; children may be, and often have
been, taught the general truths and duties of Christianity,
without any great good following, for want of such pre-
vious knowledge and dispositions as we have been speaking
of, such as are necessary to fit them for receiving the
TRUTH IN THE LOVE OF IT."
In another place he asks, " Should not this be our first
and great concern ? To plant the fear of God in their
hearts betimes," namely :
" By giving them a just and distinct knowledge of God
and his attributes.
" By making them sensible of the relation they bear to
him, and that they are accountable to his justice for every
thing they do.
" By explaining to them the condition they are brought
into, by the fall of our first parents.
" By showing them to themselves, and convincing
them from their own reason, and experience, that
" things are wretchedly amiss in them"*
•See Bishop Wilson's " Sermon, preached at the Anniversary
Meeting of the Children Educated in the Charity Schools about the
Cities of London and Westminster, May 28, 1724."
The Bishop's text to this Sermon stands thus:
Acts xiii. 48. " As many as were ordained to [that is, disposed
or prepared for,"] eternal life, believed."
I cannot withhold my expression of pleasure at seeing the Calvin-
istic rendering ordained met boldly, and effectually corrected, in
limine, at the very outset of this Sermon. " For," as the Right
Now it must be quite manifest, that if there be any rea-
son and wisdom in these observations, a formal, forced,
and artificial system of catechising, in which there is no
departure from a set form of words, and no personal appli-
cation of the maxims to the individual under examination,
cannot exercise the mind of the respondent in a sufficiently
profitable manner. Ask a child who has been for years
repeating our Church summary of doctrine, to give you in
his own language an answer to the simplest doctrinal ques-
tion, and he will look confused and stupid, unless the same
pains have been taken to make the sense reach his under-
standing, as to convey the sounds to his ears.
By following the rules laid down by all, who have se-
riously considered the subject, that is, by exercising the in-
tellect and feelings, as well as the organs of hearing, the
understandings of children will gradually open, their hearts
will take part in the service, and their conduct and answers
Rev. Author well said, " if the opinion be true, which has sometimes
been founded on this text, it would render all education, with regard
to another world, useless." In many other instances, I could almost
venture to say, in all, where the terms, ordained, foreordained, pre-
destinated, forekne-w, &c, occur in the Authorized Version, and are
wrested to imply some doctrine of necessity, of personal election, or
rejection, it will be found by reference to the Greek, that they admit
of a very different construction. A philological investigation, with
a sound knowledge of grammar and derivation, would do more to
shake the authority of Calvinistic readings of Scripture, than any
mode of reasoning whatever. One hint to the reader shall suffice.
Let him trace the Greek preposition nPO, through its different accep-
tations, and then let him search for the meaning of the Apostle, by
interpreting irpcSsw, vpmyvai, irfh^fm, (see Romans viii.) according
to grammatical and etymological rules; and I think he will not be
likely to rise from the inquiry — a confirmed Prcdestinarian.
will become more and more natural, and more in conformity
with the grand object to be attained. It must be so; for
when truths, in unison with experience and nature, and the
intelligible will of God, are again and again set before them,
not solely by loading the memory with words and senten-
ces, but by fixing their thoughts upon the subject-matter of
their lessons, in short remarks and reflections suited to
their comprehension, and growing out of the subjects of the
catechetical or Scriptural passage, which they have been
learning by heart, it is impossible that they can listen with
indifference. They cannot fail of seeing the practical ten-
dency of the knowledge imparted to them, — of being moved,
— of hoping or fearing for themselves, — and of looking
out for substantial grounds, on which they may rest their
confidence of acceptance with God.*
EXAMPLE OF THE SYSTEM PURSUED IN REFERENCE TO THE
Keeping these considerations in view, and with the de-
sire also of bringing the by-standers, as well as the chil-
dren, to a recollection of the principal incidents connected
* Bishop Wilson recommends an earnest " inculcation of the fear
of God," as the shortest and most effectual method of creating in
young people a tenderness of conscience, and a desire to be thorough-
ly instructed in the doctrines of our Holy Faith. Rejecting the use
of "arguments purely moral," such as "virtue is its own reward,"
he says, " we should utterly despair of giving them a full sight and
knowledge of their duty, if God had not himself directed us to this
consideration." "But will not this method of dealing with children
with the promulgation of the Christian covenant, I have
endeavored to vary the examination : and to put interme-
diate questions between the several questions and answers
of the Catechism, in the following manner, suggesting the
replies, when not given by the children, in the language of
Scripture, whenever it could be done appropriately.
Where were the servants of God first called Christians?
" The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."
— Acts xi. 25.
Do you remember any other passage in the book of Acts,
which shows that this name was commonly applied to them?
" Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." — Acts
Is there any promise, or prophecy in Scripture, that the
people of the Lord should have a new name given to them''
" The Lord shall call his servants by another name." —
What is required to be a child of God, now that you are
old enough to understand the promises made for you in
Faith in Jesus Christ. " Ye are all children of God
by faith in Jesus Christ." — Gal. iii. 26.
How can you convince others, that you have faith, that
you believe truly in God and Jesus Christ?
By keeping his commandments.
make them melancholy ? By no means : it may make them serious,
and that they ought to be ; and they ought to be so by times, lest
they never be so as long as they live. That which makes people
melancholy is, when they have wrong apprehensions of God, as if he
had ordained them for misery, or when they are shown the danger
they are in, without being shown the -way of escape." — See same
Sermon, May, 1724.
How can you keep the commandments?
By God's help.
By what means do you hope to obtain God's help ?
By praying unto God to give me his grace, that I may
continue in the same way unto my life's end.
Where were the commandments first delivered ?
To Moses, on Mount Sinai. — Exodus xix.
Did any thing happen upon that occasion, to show how
much God is to be feared when he delivers his command-
" There were thunders, and lightnings, and a thick cloud
upon the mount, — and the voice of a trumpet exceeding
loud, so that all the people that were in the camp trembled."
— Exodtts xix. 16.
When does a young person begin to commit wilful and
When he ceases to love God, or to fear God, ot to think
When Joseph was tempted to do wrong, what did he
" How can I do this great wickedness and sin against
God." — Gen. xxxix. 9.
The Commandments and the Law came by Moses —
what came by Jesus Christ?
" Grace and truth." — John i. 17.
But did Christ dispense with the Commandments?
No : Christ said, " I am not come to destroy the law,
but to fulfil iU n — Matt. v. 17.
AN EXAMPLE IN REFERENCE TO A SCRIPTURAL
In conducting the Sunday examination arising out of the
Gospel, or Second Lesson of the day, I have endeavoured
to make it attractive, as well as instructive, by a method
which I will exemplify, by means of the Gospel for the third
Sunday after Epiphany. One of the objects of interroga-
tion being to ascertain, whether children give their atten-
tion to what they learn by heart, it is better to draw the
Lesson out of their mouths, by leading questions, than by
requiring a recital by rote.
Matthew vni. 1 — 13.
1. "When Jesus was come down from the mountain,"
" Great multitudes followed him."
" From Galilee, from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem,
and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan." — Matt. iv. 25.
2. Who "came and worshipped him," and what was
" A leper, saying, Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make
Do you remember any case of a person being smitten
with leprosy for his offences?
Gehazi, the servant of Elisha — 2 Kings v. 27.
What was his sin?
Falsehood and eovetousncss. [Remarks upon these two
vices naturally follow.]
3. Did Jesus cure the leper?
Yes. " Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, say-
ing, I will, be thou clean ; and immediately his leprosy-
When Naaman's leprosy was cured by Elisha the pro-
phet, was it done thus immediately, and by a word?
No. Naaman was directed to wash in Jordan seven
times. — 2 Kings v.
[Remarks upon the superiority of Christ over the pro-
4. What did Christ command the leper to do, after he
had cured him ?
" See thou tell no man ; but go thy way, show thyself
to the priest, and orfer the gift that Moses commanded for
a testimony unto them."
What did the priests do, according to the Mosaic law,
when a leper was to be cleansed?
" The priest commanded two birds to be cleansed alive,
— one to be killed, and the other to be dipped in the blood
of the bird that was killed, and then let loose in the open
field." — Levit. xiv. 1 — 7.
Did this ceremony represent any thing in which Chris-
tians should believe ?
It represented or signified the shedding of Christ's blood
for sinners, by which they are cleansed from their sin.*
5. When Jesus entered into Capernaum, who came to
6. " A Centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord,
my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tor-
* At a Catechetical Examination in my parish Church in Durham,
a boy of about 14 years of ai;e came so well prepared, that he an-
swered these two last questions in nearly the same words that I have
What three virtues did this Centurion show, in coming
in this manner to Jesus ?
Faith, in that he believed in Christ's divine mission, —
Hope, in that he trusted in Christ's mercy, — Charity, in
that he left his home on a work of kindness and love, not
for his own, but for his servant's sake.
Do you remember any other example of a good and pi-
"Cornelius, a devout man, and one that feared God,
with all his house, which gave much alms to the people,
and prayed to God alway." — Acts x. 2.
7. Was Jesus inclined to grant the Centurion's request?
" Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him."
8. Did he go?
" The Centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not wor-
thy that thou shouldest come under my roof ; but speak
the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9. " For I am a man under authority, having soldiers
under me : and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth ; and
to another, Come, and he cometh ; and to rny servant, do
this, and he doeth it."
What stranger, a great and honourable man, went like
this Centurion to a prophet, to ask for a miracle, but with
less humility ?
Naaman, who was wroth when his request was not im-
mediately granted, and turned and went away in a rage. —
2 Kings v. 3, 4.
10. When Jesus heard the Centurion, what did he say?
" He marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily,
I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in
If the Centurion was not an Israelite, what do you sup-
pose him to have been ?
A Roman, — and a " proselyte," — that is, one believing
in the true God, but not conforming to the whole of the
How did the Centurion's answer show his great faith?
He did not require Christ's presence at his house. " Speak
the word only, and my servant shall be healed." For I
am a man under authority ; at my bidding I am obeyed.
How much more shalt thou be obeyed by thy ministering
spirits. If thou shalt but express thy will, it will be ac-
complished. In what manner did Christ signify, that stran-
gers and Gentiles should be admitted into the covenant of
11. " And I say unto you, that many shall come from
the east, and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham,
and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven."
Do you remember upon what occasion this truth was
again announced to an Apostle, in reference to another
When Peter was commanded in a vision to baptize Cor-
nelius. — Acts x.
How did Christ signify that outward profession and privi-
leges will not avail, unless the terms of the covenant be
12. "But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out,
into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing
You call yourself a member of Christ, a child of God,
and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven ; for what must
you pray, that you may not be cast into this darkness,
where there will be such anguish and tribulation?
" A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness."
How will your conduct testify that you have this grace?
By repentance for my past sins, and by forsaking sin in
future, and by believing stedfastly the promises of God,
made to me, in the Sacrament of Baptism.*
How did Jesus proclaim his divine power and mercy, in
reference to the Centurion ?
13. " And Jesus said, Go thy way, and as thou hast be-
lieved, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed
in the selfsame hour."
Do you see any proofs of the Godhead of Christ, and of
the doctrine of the Trinity in this miracle?
Christ knew what was passing in the Centurion's heart,
" as thou believest he knew his wish and his faith ; he
knew that he had perfect and stedfast faith. This was a
proof of his Omniscience.
He healed with a word — " So be it done unto thee."
As at the first creation, God said, " Let there be light, and
there was light ;" so, " He commanded, and it was done."
This was a proof of Christ's Omnipotence.
" The servant was healed in the self same hour." This
was a proof of Christ's ubiquity. His spirit was searching
the Centurion's soul, and restoring the servant at a dis-
tance to health, at the same lime.
What similar proof was given of Christ's Divinity, as re-
lated in another place by St. Matthew?
When he cured the daughter of the woman of Canaan.
" Be it unto thee as thou wilt : and her daughter was made-
whole from that very hour." — Malt. xv. 28.
It is by such a method as this, by relieving the subject,
and carrying on the exercise with as much spirit and cheer-
♦Upon all occasions it is my endeavour to lead the mind of the
catechumen to compare the Catechism with Scripture.
fulness as possible, by putting questions out of the common
course ; by making one question lead to another ; by sound-
ing the child's state of mind, or depth of understanding;
by putting searching interrogatories ; by drawing attention
to incidents and examples of Scripture that bear contrasting
with some case before you ; by permitting the catechumen
to proceed with his simple, and if it should be so, with his
erroneous answer, that out of error you may illustrate truth ;
by asking for the child's reasons, whether he makes a right
or wrong reply ; by persuading him to speak out, and de-
clare himself; by directing the examination judiciously to
some point of doctrine, upon which it is apprehended there
may be some misconstruction in the minds of any of the
parishioners, who happen to be present ; and by intersper-
sing such remarks, admonitions, and illustrations, as the
occasion may suggest or require ; — it is thus, that power-
ful effects are produced.
Catechising conducted upon this principle is not a mat-
ter of parade or form, it is something infinitely more; it is
performed with the certainty that we are exercising, deve-
loping, and directing the spiritual energies of the young ;
while we are rousing their elders to recollection, and pro-
voking them to emulation.
Another extremely beneficial modification of the ordin-
ance, is to put questions upon the leading articles of reli-
gion, and to require answers in the literal words of Scrip-
ture. Very little practice, and a few scholars well taught
will soon put the mode in train. Nothing can be more
salutary, more instructive, and I may add, more deeply
interesting to by-standers, than to witness an exercise of
this description ; to see the young Christian led up to the
very fountain-head, to the well-spring of truth ; and to find
that every word which proceeds from, or is put into his
mouth, in illustration of the doctrines of his Church, is de-
rived from Revelation. It cannot fail of exciting a spirit
of enquiry, and in some instances of producing entire con-
viction. " The Catechist claims a right to be heard as
soon as he begins, and carries with him every unprejudiced
suffrage as he advances."*
THE MODE OF INTERROGATORY ON THE PRINCIPAL ARTICLES
OF RELIGION, AND GIVING ANSWERS FROM SCRIPTURE.
How did God make himself known?
" He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto
the children of Israel." — Psalm ciii. 7.
Could God be known without Revelation?
"The world by wisdom knew not God." — 1 Cor. i. 21.
What is God?
"God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must wor-
ship him in spirit and in truth." — John iv. 24.
Where is God ?
" Do I not fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord." — Jer.
Does God see all that we do?
* See the Bible Catechism, by W. F. Lloyd. A cheap and un-
pretending little volume, but well worthy of attention, which will
greatly assist any Catechist who may feel inclined to adopt the sys-
tem here recommended.
"Thou God seest me." — Gen. xvi. 13.
Is God inclined to forgive our sins?
"Thou art a God ready to pardon,— slow to anger." —
Nehem. ix. 17.
Must we always obey God in all cases?
" We ought to obey God rather than men." — Acts v. 29.
By what name did God announce himself?
" I am that I am." — Exod. iii. 14.
By what attributes does St. Paul designate God?
" The King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the only wise
God?— 1 Tim. i. 17.
Why was the Messiah called Jesus ?
" Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his
people from their sins." — Matt. i. 21.
Why was he called Emmanuel?
" They shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being in-
terpreted, is, God with us." — Matt. i. 23.
What was Christ called in prophecy?
" His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the
mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
What did Christ call himself?
" Because I said, I am the Son of God. — John x. 36.
What did the Apostles say of Christ?
" And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
and we beheld his glory, — the glory of the only begotten of
the Father, full of light and truth." — John i. 14.
" He is the propitiation for our sins." — 1 John ii. 2.
" The Shepherd and Bishop ol our souls." — 1 Pet. ii. 25.
« He is the Mediator of a better covenant." — Heb. viii. 6.
" He ever liveth to make intercession for them." — Heb.
Whatpromise did Christ give concerning the Holy Ghost?
" I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another
Comforter ; that he may abide with you for ever, even the
Spirit of Truth.— John xiv. 16, 17.
"The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the
Father will send in my name." — John xxvi.
Will the Holy Ghost be given to those who pray for him ?
"If ye being evil, know how to give good gifts unto
your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father
give the Holy Ghost to them thai ask him." — Luke xi. 13.
For what purpose is the Holy Ghost given ?
« Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities. — Rom.
In what manner are the operations of the Holy Ghost
described in Scripture !
" The Holy Ghost said, separate me Barnabas and Saul,
for the work whercunto I have called them." — Acts xiii. 2.
" They were forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach in
Asia." — Acts xvi. 6.
" The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city." — Acts
" Take heed unto the flock, over which the Holy Ghost
hath made you overseers." — Acts xx. 28.
THE GODHEAD OF CHRIST.
What does St. John say of Christ's Divinity ?
" In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God." — John i. 1.
What does St. Paul say?
"God was manifest in the flesh. — 1 Tim. iii. 16.
Prove the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, by showing that
eternity is ascribed to the Father, the Son, and the Holy
" The mystery made manifest according to the com-
mandment of the everlasting God." — Rom. xvi. 25, 26.
" I (Jesus) am the first and the last. — Rev. xxii. 13.
" Through the everlasting Spirit." — Heb. ix. 14.
Prove it by the application of the term Holy One.
" I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator." —
Isaiah xliii. 15.
" But ye denied the Holy One, and desired a murderer
to be released unto you. — Acts iii. 14.
" Ye have an unction from the Holy One." — 1 John
miscellaneous doctrines explained in answers
What is original sin ?
" By one man sin entered into the world, and death by
sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have
sinned." — Rom. v. 12.
What sacrifice or ransom has been offered for sin ?
" Christ appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of
himself. Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many."
— Heb. ix. 26.
What is the atonement of Christ?
" The Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all." —
Isaiah Iv. 6.
" He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin."
2 Cor. v. 19.
What is the efficacy of prayer?
" Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he
shall give it you." — John xvi. 23.
Why are we to keep the sabbath holy?
" Hallow my sabbaths, they shall be a sign between me
and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God."
—Ezekiel xx. 20.
Why is the new birth necessary ?
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Ye must be
born again." — John iii. 3. 7.
What is the promise that the prayers of the young shall
be heard ?
" Those that seek me early shall find me." — Proverbs
What examples have we of early piety?
"The child Samuel ministered unto the Lord." And
" Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him."— 1 Samuel
iii. 1. 8.
"In the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet
young, Josiah began to seek after the God of David his
father."— 2 Chr. xxxiv. 3.
« From a child thou (Timothy) hast known the Holy
Scriptures." — 2 Tim. iii. 15.
Are disposition and true character manifested at an early
" Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work
be pure, and whether it be right." — Prov. xx. 11.
There are not many Catechumens who could readily
furnish answers to half these questions, but an important
advantage is gained by proposing them, inasmuch as the
instructor has the opportunity of directing attention to the
passages referred to, and of proving, that the basis of his
doctrines is founded on the rock of truth.
EXPLANATIONS OF WORDS AND PHRASES.
A third branch of the interrogatory system, equally salu-
tary, is to ask for explanations and definitions of the phra-
ses and terms which occur in the Catechism, or which are in
common use in the Church. Such as Baptism, Sacrament,
Vow, Salvation, Catholic Church, Communion of Saints,
Forgiveness, Resurrection, Redeemed, Sanctified, Elect peo-
ple, Idol, Sabbath day, Covet, Neighbour, Spiritual, Ghostly
enemy, Kingdom of God, New birth, Righteousness, Death
unto Sin, Grace, Repentance, Sacrifice, New life, &c. &c.
I do not recommend that these definitions should be re-
quired only as opportunities arise in the course of the ex-
amination, but that half an hour should be occasionally
devoted to the express purpose of explaining the Christian
vocabulary. Any thing which varies the service, and pro-
duces rapid transition, from one idea to another, quickens
attention, and is therefore usefully reduced to practice,
where one of the first objects is to engage willing attention.
THE PROGRESS OF CHILDREN, WHO HAVE BEEN CATECHISED,
EXEMPLIFIED BY QUESTIONS PROPOSED, AND ANSWERS
LITERALLY RETURNED BY THEM.
Before I conclude this part of my subject, I wish to fur-
nish your Lordship with a more distinct view of the real
progress made by children under the system which has
been adopted ; and for this purpose, I will beg your atten-
tion to the ensuing questions and answers, which formed
a leading feature of the examination on the Sunday before
Easter, in the present year. The children drawn up in
the chancel were of all ages from six to fifteen. Some of
them had been in the Sunday School from its commence-
ment, and had been trained weekly by myself, or by the
assistant minister, Mr. Judkin, with the aid of Mr. Roberts,
the indefatigable superintendent master, and twelve or fif-
teen of the most respectable of the congregation of Somer's
Town new Church, who volunteer their services every Sab-
bath before Morning Prayers. The Catechumens were not
in any respect prepared for the particular queries which
were proposed to them, but as it was my wish on this oc-
casion to obtain satisfactory answers, I must plainly ac-
knowledge, that I addressed myself to those, who were
most likely to give them. The replies were taken down
at the time by a person whom I had previously requested
to undertake this office, and they are now transcribed from
Why is Passion Week so called ?
Because Christ suffered and died in that week.
What were Christ's sufferings, which gave name to this
His agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and death upon
What does God require in those, who hope to benefit
by Christ's sufferings ?
Faith in his word. ~\
Repentance of past sins. j>
Obedience to his precepts. J
What are the means of Grace ?
God's word. 1
The Sacrament. J
In whose name are we to pray ?
In Christ's. He told his disciples, Ask in my name.
In what part of our Liturgy do you find this set forth?
At the end of all the prayers, " Through Jesus Christ
What do you learn from the sufferings and death of
Why are you afraid of God's displeasure, more than
" Because he can destroy both body and soul in hell."
Do you remember any cases of God depriving men of
life for their sins ?
The destruction of all but Noah's family at the flood. "|
Korah's company, Dathan and Abiram. ^
Ananias and Sapphira. J
Can you state the names of any transgressors recorded
in Scripture, whose souls, you have reason to believe, have
Dives mentioned in the parable. /
Judas Iscariot. \
Can you tell me of any sinners mentioned in Scripture,
who repented, and of whom it is believed that they are re-
ceiving the benefit of Christ's sacrifice ?
The penitent thief. ?
St. Paul, who once persecuted Christians. 3
What must you do, when you are conscious of having
offended God ?
I must pray for forgiveness, and repent, and mend my
Can you do this of yourself?
Not without the help of God's Spirit, the Holy Ghost.
How has Christ described the joys of heaven and the
punishment of hell?
Summing up the Gospel history, what three great things
did Jesus do for mankind?
How was Jesus received by the Jews ?
Answer if you can in the words of Scripture.
" He was despised and rejected of men."
How did he endure his insults and sufferings? Again
answer from Scripture.
" When he was reviled, he reviled not again : when he
suffered he threatened not."
When Christ drew near the time of his death, and his
agony increased, what did he do?
What did his disciples do, when he was taken before
Forsook him and fled.
What did Pilate say of him ?
I find no fault in him.
How did Christ pray for his enemies?
Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.
What was Christ's last prayer?
" Father into thy hands I commend my spirit."
After such evidence that the mental powers of children
are called into action, and improved by this system, and
that they soon become emulous to prepare themselves by
previous study and application for the weekly scrutiny, it
will naturally be asked, what proof have you, that they
are the better in their general conduct, and that the truths
which they are learning, make an impression upon their
hearts? I have many proofs to give, but I shall reserve
them until I discuss the utility of the plan, under its own
The modifications proposed by your Lordship having
been thus reduced to practice, it now becomes my very
agreeable business to show, that the success secured by
them has amply justified your Lordship's prediction, and
my own experiment.
" Catechising may be rendered popular as well as use-
ful, and furnish an exhibition peculiarly interesting, and
not uninstructive to the congregation. — It will give to the
Clergy, in populous places, an opportunity of becoming
known to the rising generation, in the character of
pastors invested by lawful authority with the charge of
their spiritual interests, and having a right to their atten-
tion and obedience. It will act as a stimulus to domes-
tic instruction, and prove one of the strongest incite-
ments to the parents to teach, and to the children to learn."*
Such were your Lordship's anticipations, and I will no-
tice the accomplishment of them in order.
POPULARITY OF CATECIIISING.
There are very few human productions, upon which a
Christian teacher can ground his instructions, with so much
confidence as the Church Catechism. The Roman Catho-
lic Catechisms run away into many points of faith and dis-
cipline, which have no support whatever from the plain
word of Scripture. Several of the best Catechisms of re-
formed congregations are abstrusely doctrinal, — others are
diffuse, and lengthened out into treatises; while our own
is neither redundant nor dogmatical. It never wanders
from Scripture, or runs into nice distinctions : it contains
that alone in which all Christians are agreed. It raises no
scruples, — it offends no prejudices, and its very brevity im-
plies, that it leaves much to the judgment of the parish
priest, and demands, that he does more than confine him-
self to its concise phraseology ; that, taking its letter as his
guide, ho makes a full and complete illustration of its Apos-
Hence the Clergyman, who commences his catechetical
lectures with this manual in his hand, sets out in good hu-
mour with all Christian men : every body is with him, —
no man is against him. Those, who think the Catechism
* Charge of 1818, p. 27, 28. also 1822, p. 25, 3 J edition.
too short, look to him for amplification : those, who fancy
it requires some explanation, are glad to have him for an
His next advantage consists in the necessity, under which
he lies, of adapting his style of instruction to the level of
every age a.tH capacity. He is not catechising, when he
ceases to be perfectly intelligible, easy, and familiar. The
advice which has been so judiciously given to the Preacher,
applies with tenfold force to the Catechist. " He must
descend from the high and lofty tone of language, to walk
in the humble terms of Scripture. He must limit his
rounded periods, to the extent of vulgar comprehension.
He must abound in interrogations and addresses, which
the rules of composition condemn, in writing, though the
rules of nature sanction them in speaking."*'
For the lower orders especially, the system has " charms
in its very homeliness ;" and it is the more attractive, be-
cause it allows of many topics being intermixed, which a
Clergyman would be unwilling to discuss from the pulpit,
but which he may beneficially, and without any compro-
mise of the gravity of his office, introduce from the Cate-
chetical chair. " Whereas in sermons there is a kind of
state, in catechising there is an humbleness very suitable
to Christian regeneration."")"
By-standers, of all degrees and attainments, take an in-
terest in observing how the scroll of human nature is un-
folded by this exercise, and how easily it is read on such
occasions; they are pleased in seeing the effects which re-
ligious doctrine have upon youthful minds and spirits, — in
• See Sumner's Apostolical Preaching, p. 1 1, ed. 5.
f Herbert's Country Parson.
listening to replies, which display the different dispositions
and abilities of children ; — in witnessing the development
of character and genius, — and in comparing their own re-
ligious advancement and acquirements with those of the
juvenile circle before them. Many of my congregation
have made no secret of confessing, that they could not
answer questions proposed, as well as the children have
done, and that they have been thankful for the opportunity
of picking up information, without the shame or the trouble
of asking for it. They have made a still more important
acknowledgment, — viz. that they have taken hints and re-
bukes kindly, which were aimed at them through younger
marks, when a direct reproof would have been intolerable.
" Admonitions directed to the young find their way, ob-
liquely indeed, but often effectually, to the bosoms of the
A parish priest, who resides among his people, and who
is acquainted with their spiritual state, may indeed, with
perfect fearlessness, take advantage of a Catechetical ex-
amination, to hazard remarks which would be thought in-
dicative of a jealous and controversial spirit towards per-
sons of a different persuasion, or personally offensive to-
wards individuals, were they spoken solemnly and with
premeditation from the pulpit. It is the informal, the ex-
temporaneous, the natural character of the address ; it is
the observation growing out of circumstances, and out of
the unexpected turn, which is sometimes given to the dis-
course ; it is the word forced from the mouth, while the
heart is full ; it is the genuine feeling, and honest opinion of
the Pastor, which will have utterance, when all his concern
• Archdeacon Baylcy.
is awakened in behalf of his young flock ; it is the tongue
that speaks, when the fire of truth is kindled ; it is this,
which makes indulgent and attentive hearers, and renders
all that is said welcome and impressive.
For these reasons, the Catechist may make his instruc-
tions local, and adapt them to the particular state of thought,
knowledge, opinion, errors or morals, which prevail in his
neighbourhood, and yet give no disgust, because personality
cannot be imputed when children are the parties immedi-
But even supposing the parochial minister's voice may
* Is there not reason to believe, that the doctrines of the Reforma-
tion would find their way more generally to the hearts and under-
standings of the people in Ireland, if the Clergy of the Established
Church would practise Catechising upon a more extended scale ?
In India many prejudices have been removed by this means ; and
where the natives will not listen to a Sermon, or to a controversial
discussion, professedly directed against their superstitions, they will
gather round children, who are being examined in Scriptural exer-
cises, and take pleasure in hearing their explanations.
The following is an extract from the Report of a Missionary : —
" A relation of the Rajah of Tanjore, who sends his son to our
school for instruction, sent me word, that if I would examine the
school at his house, he should feel obliged, and would be present at
the examination. I wished him to allow me to occupy his verandah
instead of the house, which he got in readiness for the examination.
When I -was examining the children, a crowd, and among them
some very respectable heathens, came to the place to be present ;
but, as I had anticipated, his servants were posted to keep the people
at such a distance, that but very few could hear me ; on my observing
to him, that the Word of God should be made known to every one
who has a desire for it, he ordered his servants to let the people come
near the verandah. I had now an advantage, by having more hearers
sound harshly in some ears, or touch chords that vibrate
unpleasantly in some hearts, yet all will admit, that he has
a right to address himself, as a reprover, a counsellor, or
an expounder of doctrine, to the children of his own flock,
and that it is nothing more than just deference to the paren-
tal authority in which he stands invested, to bear with him,
as with a person privileged to use plainness, or sharpness.
It is not for me to say how many of the causes here re-
cited have had their operation in the scene of my own la-
bours ; but I may affirm, without any fear of contradiction,
that since Catechising has been regularly pursued in Som-
er's Town, there has been no other sentiment expressed,
than that of satisfaction and approbation. Many come
to Church regularly, who were not regular before ; some
come who never entered Church doors before. The in-
terest taken in the practice is so great, that no small incon-
venience arises from the numbers, who crowd up to the
place of examination, exhibiting an eagerness to catch
every word; and it is difficult to find space enough, near
the chancel, to accommodate such as are anxious to see,
as well as to hear, all that is going on.
The most respectable inhabitants of the parish are in
the habit of bringing their children, and some of them have
warmly expressed their thankfulness for the example, as
well as for the instruction, which they find so profitable to
the younger members of their families. Parents, and rela-
tives of the children examined, take, as it may be expected,
more than ordinary pleasure in the service, and tears of joy
are often seen gushing from their eyes, when the objects
of their more immediate concern are rewarded, or com-
mended for the manner in which they may have acquitted
But perhaps nothing has contributed to prove the efficacy
and popularity of the system more strongly, than the in-
ducement it is found to hold out to young persons, beyond
the usual age of scholars, to present themselves Sunday
after Sunday for the acquirement of further knowledge, or
for the purpose of instructing others. I shall have to speak
elsewhere of such as come with the praiseworthy motive
of offering their services as teachers ; it is enough to state
here in a few words, that there are many apprentices and
servants of both sexes, who take their places regularly
amidst the children, and show an anxiety to be questioned
with the rest. In fact, the catechumens of all ages take
so lively a concern in the endeavours that are made to im-
prove them, and to inculcate salutary religious sentiments,
that they are not only voluntary, but cheerful attendants.
The time occupied is usually less than an hour, but when
it is exceeded, there are few symptoms of impatience, and
many indications that these exercises, and the preparation
for them, are considered as among the happier hours of
How can I doubt that even the youngest of my charge
find entertainment as well as improvement, when I perceive
that as the interrogations advance, their eyes lighten up,
their imaginations outrun their power of utterance, their
anxiety to reply gets the better of bashfulness, and their
mental activity increases, as long as I continue to propose
questions, which exercise thought or ingenuity 1 In fact,
they are pleased to find themselves taking part in a con-
versational exercise, and delighted at every fresh discovery
of the secret, that their own minds are capable of effort,
and that they themselves can explain as well as repeat.
When a religious service finds so many persons of all
ages and conditions, who are willingly disposed to wait
upon it, — it cannot but lead to some results which are of
the highest importance to the Christian cause.
A strong regard, and a strong reciprocity of confidence
grow out of the Clergyman's attempt to train up his young
flock in the way they should go, and out of the disposition
evinced by the congregation, to stimulate the assiduity of
the children by their presence. — He has our best interests
at heart, he labours to build us up in our holy faith, to
lead our thoughts, and to fix our attention on that which is
necessary to salvation. He is not satisfied with our for-
mal and verbal acquiescence, he requires a sincere and a
conscientious assent. He takes a parental interest in our
children, and as though he were Parent, Sponsor, and
Priest, he provides in all things for their 1 souls' health.'
He acts towards them as though he had the Scriptural
portrait of the good shepherd ever before his eyes. He
gathers the lambs with his arm, and carries them in his
bosom. He brings back that which was driven away.
He seeks that which was lost. — Such are the reflections of
the parishioners in regard to their Pastor. The Parish
Priest entertains corresponding sentiments. He loves his
flock the more affectionately, because they follow him, and
know his voice, because they will not follow a stranger.
They are the more and more endeared to him, in that they
place themselves under his guidance, and consent to be
directed by his hand. It is the willingness of parents,
children, masters of families and of their dependents, to
be taught of him, and to give themselves up to his super-
visal, which animates his affection, and cements the union.*
But these are general reflections. I am bound to show,
not what the state of things is likely to be, but what it is,
as actually resulting from the system under my own man-
Here then, in a district, situated between a dense popu-
lation on one side, where there arc numberless evil seduc-
tions: and the outskirts of London on the other, where
young people are tempted to spend the Sabbath in pro-
faneness, or in idle roaming about the fields : here, be-
tween two and three hundred children are not only per-
suaded to come to Church, but to devote the hours imme-
diately before and after public worship to religious acqire-
ments. And not only so, but many of their relatives and
friends, moved by their example, or anxious or curious to
know the extent of their proficiency, are induced to follow
them to the same place of instruction, and to pass, in seri-
ousness, time which might otherwise be consumed in levity
or sin. So much of the Sabbath being spent becomingly,
it is reasonable to hope, that the remainder of it will not
be mis-spent, and that a great number of responsible be-
ings are put in the way, by this simple ordinance, of culti-
vating a spirit of true devotion, and of reflecting at home
on what they have been learning in the house of God.
* Should it become more general in the Parochial Clergy to de-
vote a portion of their time to the public instruction of children in
Church, might we not hope, that sponsors also would begin to en-
tertain more serious notions of the responsibility of their office?
" Ye shall call upon them to hear sermons," is one of the baptismal
exhortations. The short and practical discourses, which find their
way into catechetical examinations, are " sermons" which it would
do well for sponsors to invite their adopted children to attend.
Have we not cause to expect a blessing upon such la-
bours, when a blessing has been promised ?
After all, says Seeker, the most valuable instruction*
for servants, for children, and for all persons, is the public
one of the Church, which our Saviour himself hath prom-
ised to bless with his presence.
" Gather the people together, men, and women, and
children, that they may hear, and that they may learn and
fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words
of his law, and that their children which have not known
any thing, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God. "f
Several adults, who had not been previously admitted
into the Church, have, at their own request, received the
Sacrament of Baptism, in consequence of the impression
made upon their minds, by remarks which they have heard,
• Wherever the system is adopted, that is where instruction is
conveyed, not merely by teaching the catechisms, but by catechising,
the blessing of God appears to crown the undertaking. The an-
nexed account is extracted from the last Report of the Society for
Promoting Christian Knowledge, p. 39.
" From Barbados the Society learns that there is a progressive
desire on the part of the slave to receive, and of the higher classes
to impart the blessings of religion. The Catechetical system ex-
plained in the last Annual Report, has advanced materially during
the year which has just closed ; and Sunday Schools have been
opened in many places. It appears that by the united exertions of
the clergy and their catechists, with the personal co-operation of the
proprietors, their families, and overseers, by far the greater number
of estates in this island are receiving the benefits of religious in-
struction; and one good effect already perceived has been an in-
creased attendance of the Negroes at Church, where they behave
with exemplary decorum."
f Deut. xxxi. 12, 13.
after questions on the nature of baptismal vows and prom-
ises, and the efficacy of the baptismal covenant.
Many young persons of both sexes, and of different con-
ditions in life, have kindly proffered their aid, and have re-
quested permission to act as Teachers, and to prepare the
children for their catechetical examination. They not only
attend at an early hour on Sunday mornings, but they
have signified their readiness to give lessons, during the
summer months, from six till half-past seven on Sunday
evenings. Not to dwell upon the advantage, which the
children themselves derive from the superintendence of
steady instructors, who are fully aware of the obligations
of the Christian Covenant, whose age and respectability
give weight to their admonitions, and who exercise an au-
thority over the minds of boys and girls, which monitors
chosen from among themselves could not be expected to
attain ; it is a most important point gained, to have such
coadjutors enlisted in our cause, and to unite them closer
and closer to our Church, by bringing them into frequent
converse with us.
The relation does not end here ; the intercourse which
begins so kindly is improved, and in all his pastoral func-
tions the parish priest may look to have his hands strength-
ened, his plans seconded, and his influence extended, by
the zeal and affectionate partizanship of these his lay friends
and assistants, who are first united with him as fellow-
labourers in the work of religious education.
With regard to the children themselves, out of several
cases, to which my inquiries and observations have been
directed, the following will not be thought unworthy of se-
lection : — A boy of fourteen years of age, after having at-
tended the catechising for some months, was bound appren-
tice, or placed in the service of a tradesman in the Borough.
His master employs him on Sunday mornings, but permits
him to call his time his own after noonday. The lad
regularly finds his way to the Church in Somer's Town,
makes his appearance at afternoon Prayers and Sermon,
and takes his place in the chancel for examination, among
his former companions. None answer better than himself;
he evidently devotes many of his leisure hours to religious
study, and has made himself master of a Bible and Prayer
Book, partly by producing tickets of merit, and partly by
purchase money. He is altogether, from disposition, good
conduct, and application, a youth of considerable promise.
The annexed letter from another lad of fourteen years
and a half, who has also left the Parish, but is occasionally
seen among our children, will tell his history and state of
mind better than any words I can adopt. It is addressed
to the master of the Sunday School.
"I hardly know how to express my gratitude enough
for the kindness and learning which I received while at
your Sunday School, but I am obliged to discontinue at-
tending, as I have got a situation at Mr. , West-
minster, who is a very religious good man, and with him
I am very comfortable and happy. I should feel obliged
to you, if you would give my best thanks to Mr. Judkin,*
for the learning I have received from him, which I hope
will never die in my memory. I have paid one shilling to
a large Bible, and will send all as soon as possible; if you
will have the goodness to send me one, when I have paid
* Assistant minister of Somer's Town.
enough to purchase one. I think you have also some
tickets of mine, if you please to send me a little book for
them, you would oblige, dear Sir,
Your ever grateful servant,
These two boys have displayed the same uniform atten-
tion and good conduct, during the whole of their connexion
with us. The subjoined cases are of a ditferent descrip-
Samuel , long after his admission into the Sun-
day School, was so untractable and perverse, that his
teachers began to despair of his reformation. It was even
proposed to expel him. But indications of improvement
were gradually exhibited, and he is now pronounced to be
among the most attentive and best behaved of his class.
Another lad, whose name it is not necessary to mention,
was for many weeks in the habit of mixing unwillingly
among the children at their Sunday examinations. His
master insisted upon it, under the hope of seeing an obsti-
nate and disobedient temper improved. The boy has de-
rived so much benefit by his attendance, that his master is
trying the same experiment with a second youth in his
A girl, whose ready answers and good conduct lately
attracted my notice, was represented to me, as having been
so giddy and ill-behaved, when she first came among us,
that it would have been pronounced "enthusiasm" to have
looked for any effectual change. She is now in the highest
class, and after receiving several rewards, has saved
money enough to purchase one of our best bibles.
Added to these and many other examples of the same
nature, there are several very young children, whose emu-
lation has been so strongly excited, that I have been obliged
to check it, lest their application during the week should
prove injurious to their health. One of these, not seven
years of age, came prepared, upon a late occasion, to re-
peat the whole of the eighth chapter of St. John, — fifty-nine
verses, — the self-imposed exercise of the past week. Every
Sunday, a hundred voices exclaim, " I have learnt the Col-
lect — and I the Gospel, — and I a page of Lewis's Exposi-
tion of the Catechism."
The system thus affords the Clergyman an opportunity
of becoming known to the rising generation, and extending
his influence among them. This is one of the most sub-
stantial advantages obtained by catechising. It follows as
a certain consequence. Kindness always finds its way to
the hearts of young persons, and more particularly when
it proceeds from those, whom they are in the habit of re-
garding as persons vested with authority. From the very
constitution of our Church Establishment, and from other
causes, which it is unnecessary to discuss, the youth of the
lower orders seem to require more than ordinary invitation
to approach us. Catechising, well conducted, breaks down
this partition wall; the child's bosom opens to the minister,
who frequently accosts him in a voice of affectionate con-
cern, and manifests an interest in his behalf. Seeing that
there is some feeling for him, he loves and reverences the
man, for whom he before entertained nothing more than
cold respect. The parents also are bound by cords of love
to the priest, who takes more than formal and official notice
of their children, — who holds his station among them, not
merely as a national functionary, rendering back a mea-
sured return of duty for the revenue he draws, — but whose
intercourse is an intercourse of zeal, and friendship, and
affection, exercised equally towards old and young. In
more instances that one, I have found a whole family
moved by means of a child, who has been desired to repeat
at home what he has learnt at Church, and to read a par-
ticular passage to his father or mother, or to warn a brother
or a sister, who has not yet been restrained by the fear of
The catechumens themselves, conscious that the Clergy-
man has his eye upon them, measure their conduct accord-
ingly, and are oftentimes restrained in an hour of tempta-
tion, by the apprehension, that a knowledge of their trans-
gression would expose them to his reproof, and to the
charge of inconsistency. It is frequently enough to say to
them, What, will you, who have answered so well at the
examination in Church, and received the commendations
of your minister, will you now act in direct violation of
the precepts, which you then professed to observe? Will
you, who have had a kind counsellor and friend in your
parish priest, turn your back upon him, and go to unauthor-
ized persons for spiritual direction, when you have had so
many proofs that he is much more deeply concerned in
your spiritual integrity and safety, than any stranger
can be ?
It is not, however, my wish to go into any great length
upon these topics, important as they are. I have merely
proposed to give a sketch, in outline, of the superstructure
which a good master builder may erect upon catechising :
it will therefore be enough to add, on this head, that one
great desideratum in our ecclesiastical system, may be sup-
plied by it.
For the most part we lose sight of our flock at a very
dangerous period of life,— after they leave the Parochial
Schools. Except during the short seasons, few and far
between, which are devoted to the preparation for Confir-
mation, young persons, from fifteen to twenty years of
age, arc seldom brought into contact with their Clergyman.*
The Catechist makes opportunities of intercourse, of famil-
[* " Nor can I leave this branch of the subject, without, at least, a
slight allusion to that which, in my judgment, is by far the most in-
teresting duty of the pastoral office, the nurture and the instruction
of the young. To no other exercise of his fidelity and patience, can
the Christian minister so certainly look for future increase, or for
present satisfaction. To the regular catechetical instruction, to the
Sunday School, to the Bible Class, to whatever can bring the youth
of his congregation about him, engage them in religious inquiries,
and impress them with religious truth, let him assiduously devote
himself. Let him begin early, and late leave off; — engaging the in-
fant soldiers of the Cross, from the time that they first leave their
mother's arms ; and never letting them go, till, as grown up men
and women, they are themselves fit to become teachers and examples
to the flock. In both these respects, — in beginning too late, and
leaving off too early, — the Church is greatly the sufferer. The
baptismal font does not now duly lead, as it was wont, and ever
should, first to the chancel rail, and then to the table of the Lord.
Many that are baptised, never ask for confirmation. Many that are
confirmed, come not to that holy supper. The Church loses her
hold upon them ; and they are but too often lost to her, — to them-
selves, — to the world, — to God. These things, surely, ought not so
to be. That, so far as in us lies, they may not be so, let us follow
his example, who, in that beautiful prophetic picture, ' feeds his
flock like a shepherd, gathering the lambs with his arms, and carry-
ing them in his bosom ;' — let us ever bear in mind, his affectionate
appeal to the Apostle Peter, and make it the test, by which, to our
own hearts, we try our love for him, — ' Simon, son of Jonas, lovest
thou me, more than these 1 Feed my lambs.'" — Bishop Doans,
iarizing himself with names and countenances and dispo-
sitions, which other ministers, especially in very large
parishes, cannot hope to enjoy. He gives himself a right,
which is willingly conceded to him, of enquiring after those,
whom he has been in the habit of instructing every week,
in their progress from tender to riper years. Should he
hear, or see, or learn from others, that they are going
astray, either in opinion or practice, he has an appeal to
them, which they cannot easily resist. Whether he shall
miss them at Church, or at the Sacrament, or whatever be
his reason to suspect that they are departing from the way
of truth, he has opened a door to their hearts and under-
standings, which no man can shut : which they themselves
cannot close against him, and through which he may re-
gain access whenever he pleases.
IT ACTS AS A STIMULUS TO DOMESTIC INSTRUCTION.
Of all excitements that have ever been devised, to en-
courage the parents to teach, and the children to learn,
there is none like this. The publicity of the proceedings, —
the solemnity of the place, — the presence and earnestness
of the Pastor of the flock, — the honest pride which the
parents take in having an opportunity of proving to their
neighbours and acquaintances, that they have not neglected
their children, — and the gratification of the children in re-
ceiving praise or rewards * in the face of all whom they
* The Bishop of Salisbury was present at one of these examina-
tions in Somer's Town Chapel, and being highly pleased with the
are accustomed to hold in respect ; each of these is enough
in itself to operate powerfully upon the mind during the
week, and to spur on old and young 10 make preparation
against the ensuing enquiry. What then may be expected
to be the result when these motives aci in combination,
when they are constantly at work, when there is no inter-
mission, but when every Sabbath makes new demands
upon the same attention ? *
I will confine myself to the mention of two facts in proof
of the strong feeling, which prevails in families, to qualify
the children for the catechetical examination in Church.
The mother of eleven children in Somer's Town, sends
seven of them to Church to be catechised, and three of
these arc so well trained by her, that they are among the
best of those who answer. They all come prepared with
some portion of the Scripture, or expositions of the cate-
chism, committed to memory during the week.
At a very early stage of our proceedings, a boy of about
eleven years of age, was noticed for the extraordinary
readiness of his answers, w hen he was asked for Scriptural
answers of three or four children, he kindly gave them a piece of
money each. These young folks were so excessively gratified by
the notice of his Lordship, that they preserve his presents, and wear
them as medals round their necks.
• A Letter from my parish in the country, where the system has
been tried upon the same plan, gives the following pleasing account
of its success.
" The new plan answers remarkably well, and I have had clear
proof that it will operate as a stimulus, not only to the children
themselves, but to those connected with them. I drew out several
little confessions, that brother A., and sister B., and aunt D., had
been hearing and questioning the young folks at home." — See Let-
ter from the same writer, page 182.
references. It was explained to me, that his father, who
had previously been inattentive to his religious duties, be-
gan to " search Scripture" with his child every evening,
with the view of preparing him for the Sunday questions.
That, which commenced with the mere desire of making
his son a prpficient in an exercise of memory, has ended
in conviction, and the man is now a reformed character.
Such, my Lord, are the remarks which I have thrown
together as concisely as possible, more in the form of frag-
ments and hints, than of a regular disquisition, under the
hope of inducing other Clergymen to give their serious con-
sideration to the merits of an ordinance, which most men
know how to appreciate in theory, while few are disposed
to try its effect in its several practical bearings.* But since
a plan adopted by myself may seem to require something
more than my own testimony in evidence of its practica-
bility and success, I beg attention to the annexed extract
of a letter, addressed to me by a Lay friend, who witnessed
the manner in which the business of catechising was car-
ried on by my Curate, during my absence from Somer's
Town, and the impression made upon the children and the
" I was last Sunday afternoon at Somer's Town chapel.
Perceiving many of the congregation collecting round the
Communion-table after the service, to hear the children of
the district Schools catechised, I joined the throng. It was
indeed a most gratifying scene. The children, to the num-
ber of one hundred and fifty, or sixty, evidently assembled
willingly ; they came not as by constraint to an ungrate-
ful task. They seemed to feel that they were in the pre-
[* Far too true \—Am. Ed.]
sonce of their fathers and their mothers, their relations and
their friends ; they were cheered, too, by the interest which
was manifested by many of their richer neighbours. The
spectators, I was glad to observe, were numerous, and of
all ranks and ages. Nothing could exceed the kindness
of Mr. Judkin's manner. His questions related chiefly to
the Lessons, the Collect, and the Epistle and Gospel for
the day, parts of which many of the children had learned
during the week. Their answers were frequently extremely
pertinent and correct ; and if they hesitated, they were en-
couraged to say what they did think and know, though
they might err widely from the mark ; and by thus learn-
ing the extent and nature of their ignorance, the Catechist
was the better able to instruct them, xattj^iv top zoyov.
The young Catechumens seemed to feel that something
more was required of them than answers, with which their
lips had been long familiar. When a question was pro-
posed, it immediately arrested their attention ; and if they
perceived, or thought they perceived the answer, they
strove to catch the eye of the examiner. The sacredness
of the place prevented any unseemly bursts, but their emu-
lation was not checked by unnecessary form.
" It is impossible to suppose that the by-standers did not
profit by such an examination ; the mere questions must
have incited many to reflect ; and the words of instruction
and advice, which were offered from time to time by the
Catechist, could not be lost. And surely he does not
rightly conceive the duty of a Catechist, w ho thinks it satis-
fied by asking certain formal questions, and hearing the
prescribed answers. The occasions which an examination
must offer, are the most valuable for reproof and explana-
tion of the doctrines of the Gospel.
" What a contrast between the animated scene I have
faintly sketched, and the system set forth by the Canon !
The service of the Church is interrupted ; a dozen children
are drawn up before the reading desk in prim array, and
repeat the words of their Catechism. This mode is incon-
venient and uninteresting, and is therefore seldom adopted.
But what is the consequence? Catechetical instruction is
almost disused in our Churches, though its observance is
recommended by the most potent considerations."
TOE SAME SYSTEM ADOPTED AT DURHAM.
The preceding pages give an account of an experiment
made in the metropolis: your Lordship will have no ob-
jection to hear how the system may work in a country
town, and in a parish where it might be thought, that the
introduction of a new force was not so imperiously neces-
In November last, I became the Incumbent of St. Mar-
garet's, a parish in Durham. The population is about
three thousand, and I found the way prepared for me by
the labours of two eminent predecessors,* each of w hom
had distinguished the period of his cure by some beneficial
improvement in the parish. The Clergyman, whom I im-
mediately succeeded, had put into efficient training a Sun-
day-school, and an Infant-school, and had secured such
an ample provision of Bibles, Testaments, and Prayer-
books, that there is scarcely a family which cannot pro-
* The Dean of Chester, and the Rev. W. N. Darnell.
duce a proof of his zeal, in their possession of a copy of
the Scriptures. The path thus smoothed, had been further
improved by the constant residence of a curate,* who has
been, during sixteen years, The Parish Priest, in every
sense of that term, full of meaning as it is. All possible
means were open to me of putting myself in immediate
communication with my new flock, through the introduc-
tion of one who knew them all, and was known of them.
Therefore, if Somer's Town presented a fair spot for the
experiment of catechising, on your Lordship's modified
plan, in consequence of the difficulties, which a parochial
Clergyman would have to encounter there, St. Margaret's
might also be regarded as favourable ground, in considera-
tion of its facilities.
Perceiving afternoon prayers to be indifferently attended,
and the Sunday-school to furnish a muster very unequal
to the numbers on the list, I determined to have recourse
to catechising forthwith, and I looked with sanguine expec-
tation to the result. The effect was even greater than that
which I anticipated. The afternoon congregation increased
every Sunday ; and in ten weeks the number of children
in attendance at school, which did not exceed 60 on the
first day I officiated, had swelled to 146. It has now
I derive no small satisfaction from having an opportunity
of inserting the following Report, by Mr. George, of the
improvement already resulting from steady perseverance
in the practice. It is important to have the opinion of a
Clergyman who has reflected so much and so seriously
upon the nature of clerical duties, and to adduce such an
* The Rev. P. George.
accession as this to the valuable authorities which I have
already cited in behalf of Public Catechising.
" In compliance with your request, I send you a hasty
sketch of the plan of Catechising in the Church, first
adopted when you became the Incumbent, and still con-
tinued ; together with a statement of the effects it has pro-
" It seems proper, in the first place, to advert briefly to
the nature and extent of our population ; and also to cer-
tain measures which had previously been put into operation.
The population of the Parish amounts to more than 3000;
and is of a very indigent and fluctuating character. Being
a detached suburb of a considerable town, and abounding
in mean houses, which are, moreover, in a multitude of
instances, divided into tenements occupied by distinct fami-
lies; — it naturally becomes, for these reasons, the abode
of the poorest orders ; and, on some other accounts, also
attracts very many of the vagrants, and loose and suspi-
cious characters, who pass along the great North-road.
These circumstances, in conjunction with the almost total
want of accommodation in the Church, for the mass of the
poorer orders, (until within the last three or four years)
tended, in no ordinary degree, to cherish vice and igno-
rance, and a total apathy to religion, and, indeed, to im-
provement of any kind. One essential step towards the
amelioration of a Parish so circumstanced, seemed to be
the providing accommodation for the poorer orders in the
Church. A free gallery was, accordingly, erected at the
suggestion, and through the exertions of the last Incum-
bent ; which, although by no means adequate to supply the
wants of the Parish, has proved a material aid. The edu-
cation of the children was obviously the next step, which
afforded any prospect of success. By giving them reli-
gious instruction, and training them to habits of due ob-
servance of the Lord's day, and attendance at Church, it
was hoped that many of them would not only be rescued
from the ignorance and irreligion which surrounded them,
but that they might be made the means of bringing a bene-
ficial influence to bear on their parents and relatives,
whose habits had become such as to make them scarcely
accessible by other means. With this view, a Sunday-
school was established, and subsequently, an Infant-school
by way of nursery and preparation, for it. In addition to
this, the several dames' and other schools in the Parish,
were regularly visited by the Clergyman, for the purpose
of securing due attention to the teaching of the Church
Catechism, and of watching over the progress of the chil-
dren in it. By these means religious instruction was, in
some measure, advanced among the mass of the children,
and the way cleared for the adoption of your plan of Cate-
chising in Church ; which, before, would have been, if not
impracticable, at least much less interesting and efficient,
on account of the very small number of children, who were
capable of any thing beyond the merest elementary in-
" In forming a plan for Catechising in the Church, it
was of great importance to adapt it, not only to the instruc-
tion of the children themselves, but so as also to excite the
notice of their parents and relatives, and to render it a vehicle
of attractive instruction ; and consequently of some general
interest to a congregation. With these views a portion of
the Church Catechism is given out to be got up during the
week, together with some texts of Scripture, that are con-
firmatory or explanatory of the doctrines or precepts,
which it contains. The Sunday Collect is also committed
to memory, and the children are encouraged to endeavour
to prepare themselves to answer such questions as the mat-
ter it contains may suggest. In addition to these, the Gos-
pel for the day is learnt or read over by the children ; a
certain number of verses by each, (several of them vol-
untarily get up the whole) and they are required to state
the incidents recorded in it ; the doctrines or precepts it
teaches ; the promises or threatenings it holds forth, 6cc;
and to quote the references it may contain, on any of the
above particulars, to the Scriptures of the Old Testament.
Tickets of merit are distributed publicly in Church, at the
conclusion of the Catechising, to those who have answered
best ; and a certain number of these entitle their possessors
to a Bible, New Testament, or Prayer-book, or some other
suitable gift, which is also bestowed publicly. The Sun-
day-school is now so regulated as to be in every respect
preparatory for the above plan of Catechising in Church,
which is held out, and is considered by the children in a
remarkable degree, as a great distinction and privilege to
be attained to.
"If it be now asked, what have been the effects of this
plan? It is answered, First, It has more than doubled the
numbers at the Sunday-school. Secondly, The order and
discipline among the children have been greatly improved;
and are now maintained with a degree of ease before un-
known ; in consequence of the value attached to the Cate-
chising in Church, both by children and parents, and the
desire to merit the distinction of being admitted to it.
Thirdly, It has attracted a respectable congregation in the
afternoon, when very few attended before. Fourthly, It
has excited many among the poorer classes (of which seve-
ral striking proofs have occurred) to endeavour to assist
their children in preparing themselves, as well for the Cate-
chising in the Church, as for the examinations in the school ;
a circumstance which cannot fail to prove highly benefi-
cial, and of which there have been already proofs, espe-
cially in the attendance of many poor parents, and others,
on divine worship, who formerly, very much, if not alto-
gether, neglected it. Fifthly, It is evidently working a
great improvement in the general behaviour of the children
during the week, probably from the feeling, that the eyes
of the public are more particularly fixed on them, in con-
sequence of their appearing at the Catechising in Chnrch,
and also, it may be hoped, in consequence of the instruc-
tion they have there received. These are plain facts,
which admit not of being doubted; and which fully bear
out the expectations entertained by you, with regard to the
utility of public Catechising in Church, if judiciously man-
aged, and vigorously pursued. Its influence may be made
to operate where a Clergyman's preaching never, perhaps,
reaches ; and where his advice and admonitions can be
heard only on an occasional visit, and will then be heard
too often only to be speedily forgotten. It operates upon
parents through a channel which remains open, when every
other is, perhaps, shut — through their feelings for their
children. It forms the most effectual check to dissent ;
and if it were generally adopted, and well conducted,
would, if I may venture to state my humble opinion, most
powerfully extend the influence and usefulness of the
Church among the mass of the people than any other ex-
pedient that could be devised "
My Lord, I have now come to a termination of my pro-
posed task. The system which I have adopted in your
diocese, will, I trust, be continued by my successor, and I
take leave of the district, with an earnest hope, that the
beneficial results of a plan originating in your Lordship's
Charge, will be of a lasting nature. The experiment has
been tried, and fully stated ; and my object will be as fullv
attained, if any persons who entertain low views concern-
ing the duty of Catechising, or if any, whose practice does
not correspond with their proper estimate of its importance,
shall be induced to give their serious attention to the subject.
A service, which has been sanctioned by the example of
the primitive Church, and of early reformed Churches:
which has been enjoined by the Canons and Rubrics, and
recommended by the most distinguished divines of our Es-
tablishment, which has been adopted by the Roman Catho-
lics, and exercised by Protestant congregations of every
name and sect throughout the Christian world, cannot but
be practicable, instructive, and lovely in itself "For,
however individuals and societies may have differed in all
other points, on the utility and necessity of Catechising all
have agreed.— Europeans, Asiatics, and Africans, Greeks
and Latins, Papists and Protestants, Lutherans and Cal-
vinistics."* Wherever, therefore, it has been discontinued,
the blame must rest upon individuals, whose duty it is to
embrace every means, which the Church sets forth, of ex-
plaining its doctrines, and extending its influence.
At the present crisis, when the Church of England has
descended from her vantage ground, and declared her wil-
lingness to depend upon her moral strength — the purity of ^
her Creed — the strictness of her discipline — the attachment
of her supporters — and the fidelity of her ministers, for
maintenance and ascendancy, there is a louder demand
than ever for pastoral exertion in every branch of her or-
dinances. It will no longer suffice to talk of attachment
to the Establishment, to write in its defence, or to contro-
vert the arguments of its adversaries. Ours must be the
persuasive reasoning of effective ministry. We must find
our way to the hearts of the people, by exercising every
duty which the Church imposes, as a tost of usefulness
and sincerity. The Dissenters boldly measure strength
with us ; the Roman Catholics openly menace and oppose
us — they argue with us, they challenge us to a contest of
words, and to a comparison of professional activity. But
as long as we are vigilant and true to ourselves we have
nothing to fear. Our former triumphs have been achieved
by a lively zeal in the diffusion of light and knowledge, by
guiding the public mind in the search of truth, and by ta-
king the lead in all pursuits that conduct to it. But having,
by the blessing of God obtained our pre-eminence, in part
at least, by promoting national education, and religious in-
quiry, we must now preserve our station by personally
superintending their progress, not only in Schools, and
among individuals, but in the face of the congregation.
I have the honour to be,
Your Lordship's most obliged
And faithful servant,
William Stephen Gilly.
May 1, 1828.
If you would have united and pros-
perous parishes, affectionate to your-
selves, and devoted to your Redeemer
— if you would enjoy the blessed sat-
isfaction to see your spiritual chil-
dren walking in the truth, and to
meet them joyful and happy at the
judgment of the great day, never lose
sight of your duly to the lambs of the
flock of Christ — the duty of thorough
personal catechetical instruction.
Nothing can be more strongly conclusive of the advan-
tages which arise out of a system, where instruction is im-
parted to children, through examinations in Scripture, and
in elementary knowledge, than the Reports which arrive
in this country from India. When Bishop Heber declared
" THE STRENGTH OF THE CHRISTIAN CAUSE IN INDIA LIES
here," lie was speaking of the Missions in Tanjore, where
well-conducted schools, for the diffusion, in the first place
of European, and ultimately of Christian Knowledge, are
prominent among the means employed of enlightening the
" I can assure the Society," says the Rev. Thomas
Robinson, secretary to the Calcutta District Committee,
addressing himself to the Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge, " that their native schools in Bengal hold
out most encouraging prospects of success in converting
the heathen to our hoi;/ faith. I have visited these semi-
naries, and am satisfied that no human means can be so
effectual in sapping the foundation of idolatry as they are.
The work may not immediately be followed by brilliant
results, but there can be no doubt of the ultimate effect.
Prejudice and alarm are rapidly subsiding, and difficulties
which a few years ago presented a formidable barrier, are
now unknown. We are at liberty to introduce the Scrip-
tures and other religious books without a murmur. The
word of God is taught daily ; the Lord's Prayer is com-
mitted to memory, whilst treatises, calculated to convey
useful knowledge, are received and learnt with avidity."
The following extracts from Reports of proceedings in
India,* relative to hopes entertained of reaching the hearts
of the population at large, through the young, will not be
thought foreign to the question discussed in this volume.
We may argue from the unconverted heathen abroad, to
the nominal professors of Christianity at home, and expect
the same results to follow.
" Each succeeding despatch, and every fresh arrival
from the East furnish accumulated evidence to prove that
education, and education alone, can overcome the preju-
dices of the Heathen, and prepare the way for the recep-
tion of Christianity. And when this fact is understood in
Europe as completely as it appears to be understood in In-
dia, the Society may expect those important additions to
its Native School Fund, which will enable it to answer the
purposes for which it was formed." — Report of the Society
for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1826, p. 27.
* Similar expectations are indulged in another part of the world
upon the same principle.
"Besides the model schools at Bridge Town, the Bishop of Bar-
bados has adopted a plan for the general instruction of the black
population throughout his diocese. He proposes to appoint one or
more catechists in every parish, whose especial duty it will he to in-
struct the slaves, under the direction of the Clergy, and with the
permission of their respective masters. His Lordship has been so
fortunate as to procure the services of several highly respectable per-
sons in the situation of catechists ; and the system is undoubtedly
calculated to communicate religious knowledge, both to the adult
and to the child, with greater rapidity and greater regularity than
any that had been previously proposed." — Report of the Society
for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1S26, p. 31.
" Stimulated by these encouraging assurances, the So-
ciety will continue to give its most earnest attention to the
increase and maintenance of native schools. The liberal
provision now made by the Indian Government for the lit-
erary instruction of its subjects, seems to point out the
communication of religious knowledge as the peculiar field
for the operation of the Society." — Society's Report of
1827, p. 29.
" At Bombay, to which a Missionary has now been ap-
pointed by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel,
there has been a considerable increase in the number of
children educated in the Native Schools ; a large supply
of books has been requested; a large remittance in pay-
ment for former supplies has been received: and it is
hoped that Christianity will soon be introduced into the
schools in this Presidency in the same unobtrusive and
effectual manner which has been already adopted in the
neighbourhood of Calcutta.
"In Ceylon, where the number of native Christians has
long been considerable, and where nothing seems to be
wanted but an improved and extensive system of schooling,
the plan suggested by Bishop Heber for the education of
native teachers, has been unavoidably interrupted by his
death. But so valuable a suggestion will not be lost sight
of." — Society's Report of 1827, p. 32.
" In these schools the Scriptures are read as a book of
elementary instruction, without opposition from the natives,
or any appearance of dislike. Here, it would seem, a
great door, and effectual, is opened to the preaching and
reception of the Gospel. For it may reasonably be hoped
that many, whose minds have been thus seasoned in early
life with the words of truth and soberness, will see, when
they grow up to manhood, the folly and wickedness of
their popular creed and superstitions ; will listen with glad-
ness to those messengers of Christ who propound to them
the truths, and ply them with the lessons of godliness, to
which they had been accustomed in their childhood ; will
renounce the errors and idols of their forefathers, and be-
come sincere and willing converts to our pure and holy
religion. Under these convictions of their tendency to ad-
vance the good work of conversion, a separate fund has
been formed for their support. And the Society entertains
a sanguine hope that, under your protection, they may,
through God's blessing upon the instruments which he
vouchsafes to employ, serve to promote the knowledge of
the Gospel, and to extend the boundaries of the kingdom
of heaven — From the Bishop of Gloucester's Valedictory
Address to the Bishop of Calcutta, Society's Report of
1827, p. 91.
" Six schools have been established in different parts of
the city, (Benares), containing about 240 boys: in these
schools, after the first books, the Gospels are read, and
the treatise on Geography in Hinduwce printed by the
School. Book Society. The streets of Benares being mostly
very narrow, the boys assemble in long verandahs, and
the passers-by see and hear all that takes place: this,
though unfavourable for the purposes of a school, yet
causes what the boys read to be heard by many, and some-
times a hundred people or upwards will crowd around
while the boys are examined in the previous iveek's exer-
cises, and their knowledge is diffused." — Report of the
Church Missionary Society, 1827, p. 114.
The Calcutta Committee gives the following account of
an examination of the schools ; —
" On the 23d of April, a general examination was held
of all the schools, previous to the Annual Meeting of the
Committee. About sixty attended, from seven years old
and upwards. The business of the day commenced with
the third chapter of Galatians, read by one of the elder
boys in Hindoostanee, and a Hindostance prayer by Mr.
Wilkinson, in which the Christian boys joined, the teachers
and other boys attending in a very orderly manner. The
different classes were then examined in an Elementary
Catechism composed by Mr. Wilkinson, the Assembly's
Catechism, and W T atts' Catechism of Scripture Names,
various Native Class-books, the Hinclce, Oordoo and Per-
sian Testaments, the Pentateuch in Oordoo, and the Per-
sian. One boy repeated a Poem of considerable length,
on the Being and Attributes of God ; and all performed
very well with reference to their ages and periods of at-
tendance. But what appeared to give most general satis-
faction, was the performance of a class of six boys, (two
from the Seminary, and four from the Central School,)
who read various passages from the New Testament, Pen-
tateuch, and Psalms, in Persian and Ilindce. The feel-
ing and intelligent manner in which they delivered their
various portions, contrasted with the formal drawl so gen-
erally exhibited by native readers — the readiness, accuracy,
and facility with which they referred to different Scrip-
tures bearing on the subject of their Lecture, particularly
from Psalm viii. to the interpret atory passage in Matthew
xxi. and Hebrews ii — and the good sense and correctness
with which they answered the various questions proposed
to them, could not fail to excite mingled gratification and
surprise in the minds of all who considered how lately
they had come under this species of instruction. The in-
terest also taken in the Lecture by the native teachers,
and their inquiries respecting passages of which an ex-
planation was offered, could not but be highly pleasing."
— Report of the Church Missionary Society, l&27,p. 121.
" I sent out the schoolmaster last Sunday while the bell
was ringing, to those who lived near, to invite them to
come ; but they would not : they asked what profit they
should get by going to hear a sermon. Finding that no
adults attended the services on Wednesday and Thursday
evenings, I dispensed with preaching, and now read the
prayers, and catechise the children on the history of the
Bible and the leading truths of Christianity : by begin-
ning these services an hour before the usual time of closing
the school, the attendance of most of the children is se-
cured ; for though they are not compelled to remain, yet
they generally do — that is, the Cingalese boys on the
Wednesday, and the Portuguese on the Thursday. Seve-
ral also of the Headmen's sons, who come to school to
learn English, are, by this means, brought to engage in
Christian worship, who would not venture to come on the
Sunday for the express purpose : in this way it may be
hoped that some good may be effected — that their preju-
dices against our religion will, in time, wear away — and
that the truths of the Gospel, becoming familiar to them,
will, through the blessing of God, enlighten their minds:
they will not kneel with the other children at prayers, but
they do not object to take a book and join in the service." —
Report of the Church Missionary Society, 1827, p. 149.
Of the schools generally, Mr. Ward writes —
" They are all visited twice, and in some cases three
times, a week, by our young people; which, together with
our own visits, will be productive, I trust, of a gradual im-
provement in the rising generation. Wc have never be-
fore possessed the means which we now do, for the ac-
complishment of this important object." — Ibid. p. 150.
It is not too much to say, that,
next to an established'liturgy,
and beyond all prescribed con-
fessions of faith, the single or-
dinance of catechetical instruc-
tion has been, under Providence
the great stay and support,
throughout Christendom, of or-
thodox unwavering catholicity.
BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR.
The purpose with which this re-print has been under-
taken will be fully answered if it shall serve to extend the
increasing attention which is now attracted towards the
plan of public catechising, and to establish more widely
a just and partial conviction of the great importance of that
ancient institution. The success which shall attend its
adoption in any case will be mainly dependent, under God,
upon the pastoral interest. As to the duty of bringing up
the children of the Church "in the nurture and admonition
of the Lord," there will be no difference of opinion. The
only point to be decided is, the most effectual mode. If the
test of experience be followed, the decision will be easily
established. A chief obstacle to its adoption is the appre-
hension, commonly met with, of failure in the attempt.
There is a supposed necessity of some peculiar fitness for
the work which all cannot attain. Doubtless there will be
different degrees of facility and different degrees of success
in this, and every other human enterprize. But because
all preachers are not eloquent alike, are not all to preach 1
The conviction is established in the author's mind, after
much reflection and experience, that a high degree of ex-
cellcnce is much more generally attainable in catechising
than in preaching. The saying often quoted, is not lost
sight of, that " a boy may preach, but it requires a man
to catechize." Allowance is first to be made for a fair
measure of proverbial exaggeration in the antithesis here
stated. For the rest, experience makes the difference.
" Docendo docemur." The catechist will learn to cate-
chise. Only let him have long patience. If there be a
motto for him, better than any other, it is Isaiah's — " pre-
cept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon
line, line upon line; here a little and there a little." For the
method of catechising, it will vary — the Church catechism
being the basis — with every variety of character and cir-
cumstance. No course that could be delineated would
suit all. A specimen of the course pursued, with great
advantage, by the present writer, is in preparation for the
press — " the Church Catechism analyzed, and proved by
Scripture." After all, it will be no more than " Hints for
Introduction by the American Editor iii
The Church's care for little children 7
The Author's Introduction 47
Preliminary Observations 51
Extract from the Bishop of London's Charge . . .52
Catechising, the uniform practice of the Roman Catholic Clergy
The Practice of the Roman Catholic Clergy in England . 56
Its Success 57
An Instrument of Proselytism 60
Practised by the Foreign Protestant Clergy ... 63
Its Happy Effects 65
Measures which have been adopted in England to enforce Cate-
chising on the Part of the Established Clergy . . 67
Canon of Edward VI . . 68
Penal Injunctions of Elizabeth ...... 69
Canons of James I. ........ 71
Rubric of 1661 73
Insufficiency of the Rubric to revive effective Catechising . 74
Motives derived from the Baptismal Service . . .78
Motives derived from the Ordination Service ... 80
A Mistaken Idea, that the Necessity of Catechising is super-
seded by the National School System . . . . S4
Erroneous Estimate of tlie Importance of Catechising . 87
Catechising practised by the Apostles and their Successors . 89
The Attention paid to it by the Early Church . . . 91
The Opinions of the Early Reformers, and other Eminent Men 94
The supposed Difficulties of Catechising . . . .98
Practical adoption of the Proposed System . . . 101
In what Respect the old Practice may be modified and improved 109
I. The Time of Catechising 110
II. The interspersed Explanations, and mixed Character of
the Practice Ill
Methods of rendering Catechising attractive . . . 112
Example of the System in reference to the Catechism . .118
An Example in reference to a Scriptural Examination . 121
The Mode of Interrogatory on the Principal Articles of Reli-
gion, and giving Answers from Scripture . . . 127
Miscellaneous Doctrines explained in Answers from Scripture 130
Explanations of Words and Phrases .... 132
The Progress of Children, who have been Catechised exempli-
fied by Questions proposed, and Answers liter.illy re-
turned by them ........ 133
Popularity of Catechising 137
Its Usefulness 143
It acts as a stimulus to Domestic Instruction . . . 152
The same system adopted at Durham .... 15G
Conclusion . . . * . . . • . 162
Appendix .......... 165
Postscript . . : 173